Arts History Update for early December 2012

27 Nov

Arts History Update for early December 2012 by David Cummins

Gary Schwantz, Ph.D. is the author of a new book eCouragements: e-mail messages for savoring life (2012) that is a collection of his weekly inspirational e-mails. You can order online at for $15 plus $3.99 shipping. Gary is a Lubbock facilitator, speaker, convener person who is a former Lubbock County Commissioner and current adjunct faculty member at Texas Tech University College of Human Sciences, his alma mater. The book is illustrated throughout by Pat Maines, Lubbock graphics, design and miniature artist. her website is

You may also purchase the book at its book release party Thursday December 6 4:30 -7:00 p.m. at Studio West [Melissa Grimes design studio] 2801 26th Street, Lubbock. Gary will make brief remarks at 6:00 p.m. and sign any books, preferably by him, but who knows what he will sign? Wine and hors d’oeuvres are on offer and if you know Melissa they will be sumptuous.


Now that Hamas made rocket attacks [from its supposedly secret positions in Gaza] on select Israeli locations, again killing indiscriminately rather than attacking a military unit, the Israeli military responded with a precision strategy to send rockets to known locations of Hamas in Gaza but this is a densely populated area and some Palestinians uninvolved in violence are injured and dying.

Why is this happening all over again? It’s a replay of decades of useless violence that can’t achieve anything positive. That is our view of Palestine and Israel, not their view. Perhaps we should stop looking at those places and people with our built-in filter of nationalism, democracy, and a society which is intended to be integral to the success of everyone within the society. We measure progress by how many and how much we are all better off.

First, notice that Hamas made the rocket attack that started the current violence. But you say, Hamas is not the elected leadership of Palestine. Mahmoud Abbas is the elected President of the Palestinian National Authority on the Fatah political party ticket that prevailed over the Hamas opposition. Abbas has been Chairman of Palestine Liberation Organization PLO since 2004. The reality is that Fatah and PLO are today considerably weaker within Palestine, and especially within Gaza, than when they came to power. The reality is that they would be tossed out of office if they “made peace” with Israel or seriously negotiated the two-state solution to which the United States has been attached for decades. In the last century President Clinton brought the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and the PLO Fatah leader Yasser Arafat together at Camp David Maryland to negotiate that two state solution. Israel was reluctantly willing because it was an option and might have been an improvement and the United States wanted it badly, but Arafat kept throwing up obstacles until it was obvious that he only wanted the appearance and image of negotiating on a world stage, not peace or detente or an agreement with Israel.

Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, in its 1988 Charter told us that it aims toward removal of Israel from Palestine

If you thought, at the time, as I did, that this was a personal failure of leadership in the form of one man, Yasser Arafat, then you and I didn’t get it. What we didn’t understand is that Palestinians don’t want a state within a state [today’s standoff] or a new state Palestine astride a relatively new and more powerful state Israel. That doesn’t meet their primary and irresolvable goal, the removal of an Israeli Jewish polity from the religious and tribal homeland of Palestinians. They will not and cannot emotionally or intellectually accept the position that the very same area is the religious and tribal homeland of someone else, Israelis or anyone else. The claim of Christians during the Crusades was ultimately overthrown and the claim of Israeli Jews will ultimately be overthrown. That is their position and their view that Israelis are outsiders or infidels. The tactically ineffective rocket attacks against Israelis, or suicide bombings in Tel Aviv, are what some Palestinians can presently do to keep laying their claim toward removal of all Israeli Jews from religious and historic Palestine. Palestinians know that such activities bring immediate suffering on themselves, but they are already suffering and must endure it and more, for the cause of removal of Israelis.

This rather pessimistic view is shared by others. Hussein Agha & Robert Malley, This Is Not a Revolution, The New York Review of Books, November 8, 2012 at p.71

From our perspective an ocean away, the determined Israelis persist and have peace treaties in place with Egypt and Jordan, and a detente with Lebanon and Syria, their four neighbors. Ehud Barak, the former Prime Minister, has been Minister of Defense since June 18, 2007 under two Prime Ministers of a different political party than his Over a score of years Barak has been a member of three political parties One Israel, Labor, and Independence and is himself a former Lieutenant General in the Army. Barak succeeded a former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and now serves as Defense Minister under that same man who has returned for another stint as Prime Minister.

Hamas is a Sunni Muslim organization that identifies itself to be a wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Israel deals with it even though it is currently being financed in part and militarily supplied in part by Iran. Hezbollah is a Shia Muslim organization based in Lebanon supported financially and militarily by Iran Israel strongly opposes it and fears the growing nuclear power ambitions of Iran, even pledging to make a pre-emptive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities if and when they yield a military capability.

On Tuesday November 20 masked Hamas militants publicly [at a major intersection in Gaza City] killed six Palestinians who were accused of providing Israel with information about Hamas fighters and rocket launching sites. This is how Palestinians are terrified by fellow Palestinians as well as by Israelis. This terror is part of their suffering for which there is no end in sight.


Here is the Endesa Pavilion in Barcelona Spain a self-sufficient solar prototype structure installed at the Marina Dock accessible by the public and monitored for its form follows energy utilization paradigm. Oh, those Catalan architects are thinking outside the box again.


Historian Ramachandra Guha speaks on India’s constitutional development and future in two videos, the first one hour 13 minutes on constitutional development and the second, one hour 16 minutes on India’s Fault Lines: A Fatal Blow to its Global Ambitions. Books and articles of interest are:

Ramachandra Guha, India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy (Ecco 2007 893 pages) Tech Library DS480.84.G74

Pankaj Mishra, Impasse in India, The New York Review of Books, June 28, 2007 reviewing Martha C. Nussbaum, The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India’s Future (Belknap Press / Harvard University Press 2007)

David Malone, Does the Elephant Dance? Indian Foreign Policy (Oxford University Press 2011) Tech Library DS480.853.M3655


The British Museum is opening an Ice Age Art exhibit February 7 – May 26, 2013 so we can see many items carved from bone by paleolithic ancestors. A recent book tells a story that reveals much of the basis for our fascination. Andrew J. Lawson, Painted Caves: Palaeolithic Rock Art in Western Europe (Oxford University Press June 2012 $180) The title is misleading because the caves yield far more engravings and outline drawings than paintings. It is further misleading because many discoveries are not in caves but in rock shelters and in open air settings. There is an emphasis on dating the art by scientific methods such as radio-carbon dating and by dating calcite layers on top of the imagery. A very recent article updates techniques for the latter method. A.W.G. Pike at al., U-Series Dating of Paleolithic Art in 11 Caves in Spain, Science Magazine, June 15, 2012 at pages 1409-1413 discussing recent usages of uranium series disequilibrium dating of calcite deposits that either overly or underly the art.

The art of the Chauvet Cave in southern France in the Ardeche region, discovered in 1994, is amazing regardless of the uncertainty that remains about whether it might be 40,000 years old [Aurignacian period example of figurative art is Lion Man] or a mere 20,000 years old [Gravettian period example of figurative art is Venus of Lespugue]. Click on through the images in the cave from the following website. My favorite is the rhinoceros-like beasts interacting with the horses. A second is the grouping of lions. Jean-Marie Chauvet et al., Dawn of Art: The Chauvet Cave (the Oldest Known Paintings in the World) Texas Tech Library OVERSZ N5310.5.F7 C4713

The art of the Lower Pecos River near where it flows into the Rio Grande River, is a Texas rock art destination. The Shumla School at Comstock Texas is a good place to start enjoying this area A mere 4,000 years in age, it’s also fascinating. A couple of books might be of interest:

Carolyn E. Boyd, Rock Art of the Lower Pecos (Texas A&M University Press 2003) $34.33 Texas Tech Library E78.N65 B69

Lawrence L. Loendorf, Thunder & Herds: Rock Art of the High Plains (Left Coast Press 2008) $29.71 paperback at Texas Tech Library E78.G73 L64


Sinister Pop is an exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art that attempts to draw links between the rise of consumerism in the 1960s and the counterculture sentiment that soon followed, led if you will by Pop Art pioneers. I am less than sanguine about claims by artists or their flacks that avant-garde artists are the seers / prophets of our times. November 15 – March 31, 2013. Doing something because it can be done, and painting the clatter and din of a society ramping up its capacity to communicate by mass media outlets, was of only passing interest to me at the time. My interest in Pop Art continues to be passing, being more intrigued by aesthetic and construction rather than the psychology of the commercially mundane. Looking back at Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol I prefer to look ahead.



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