FRIEDMAN FRIDAY Milton Friedman at 90 Thomas Sowell July 25, 2002

Milton Friedman at 90 Thomas Sowell July 25, 2002


Frances Fox Piven vs. Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell

Uploaded on Jan 25, 2011

In this clip from the 1980 Free To Choose, socialist Frances Fox Piven tangles with Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell. We thought this would be interesting in light of the dustup between The New York Times and Fox News (Glenn Beck) on the subject of Piven.

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Milton Friedman at 90

Thomas Sowell | Jul 25, 2002

Milton Friedman’s 90th birthday on July 31st provides an occasion to think back on his role as the pre-eminent economist of the 20th century. To those of us who were privileged to be his students, he also stands out as a great teacher.

When I was a graduate student at the University of Chicago, back in 1959, one day I was waiting outside Professor Friedman’s office when another graduate student passed by. He noticed my exam paper on my lap and exclaimed: “You got a B?”

“Yes,” I said. “Is that bad?”

“There were only two B’s in the whole class,” he replied.

“How many A’s?” I asked.

“There were no A’s!”

Today, this kind of grading might be considered to represent a “tough love” philosophy of teaching. I don’t know about love, but it was certainly tough.

Professor Friedman also did not let students arrive late at his lectures and distract the class by their entrance. Once I arrived a couple of minutes late for class and had to turn around and go back to the dormitory.

All the way back, I thought about the fact that I would be held responsible for what was said in that lecture, even though I never heard it. Thereafter, I was always in my seat when Milton Friedman walked in to give his lecture.

On a term paper, I wrote that either (a) this would happen or (b) that would happen. Professor Friedman wrote in the margin: “Or (c) your analysis is wrong.”

“Where was my analysis wrong?” I asked him.

“I didn’t say your analysis was wrong,” he replied. “I just wanted you to keep that possibility in mind.”

Perhaps the best way to summarize all this is to say that Milton Friedman is a wonderful human being — especially outside the classroom. It has been a much greater pleasure to listen to his lectures in later years, after I was no longer going to be quizzed on them, and a special pleasure to appear on a couple of television programs with him and to meet him on social occasions.

Milton Friedman’s enduring legacy will long outlast the memories of his students and extends beyond the field of economics. John Maynard Keynes was the reigning demi-god among economists when Friedman’s career began, and Friedman himself was at first a follower of Keynesian doctrines and liberal politics.

Yet no one did more to dismantle both Keynesian economics and liberal welfare-state thinking. As late as the 1950s, those with the prevailing Keynesian orthodoxy were still able to depict Milton Friedman as a fringe figure, clinging to an outmoded way of thinking. But the intellectual power of his ideas, the fortitude with which he persevered, and the ever more apparent failures of Keynesian analyses and policies, began to change all that, even before Professor Friedman was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics in 1976.

A towering intellect seldom goes together with practical wisdom, or perhaps even common sense. However, Milton Friedman not only excelled in the scholarly journals but also on the television screen, presenting the basics of economics in a way that the general public could understand.

His mini-series “Free to Choose” was a classic that made economic principles clear to all with living examples. His good nature and good humor also came through in a way that attracted and held an audience.

Although Friedrich Hayek launched the first major challenge to the prevailing thinking behind the welfare state and socialism with his 1944 book “The Road to Serfdom,” Milton Friedman became the dominant intellectual force among those who turned back the leftward tide in what had seemed to be the wave of the future.

Without Milton Friedman’s role in changing the minds of so many Americans, it is hard to imagine how Ronald Reagan could have been elected president.

Nor was Friedman’s influence confined to the United States. His ideas reached around the world, not only among economists, but also in political circles which began to understand why left-wing ideas that sounded so good produced results that were so bad.

Milton Friedman rates a 21-gun salute on his birthday. Or perhaps a 90-gun salute would be more appropriate.

Milton Friedman – A Conversation On Minimum Wage

Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose (1980), episode 3 – Anatomy of a Crisis. part 1

Milton Friedman on Donahue – 1979

Uploaded on Aug 26, 2009

Dr. Milton Friedman, Nobel Laureate, promoting “Free to Choose” on the show Donahue.

Milton Friedman: There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch


Milton Friedman on Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” 1994 Interview 1 of 2

Milton Friedman on Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” 1994 Interview 2 of 2

Milton Friedman The Power of the Market 2-5


Milton Friedman on Self-Interest and the Profit Motive 1of2

Milton Friedman on Self-Interest and the Profit Motive 2of2


Milton Friedman The Power of the Market 1-5


Milton Friedman – The Negative Income Tax

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FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART THE BEATLES Part 87 George Bernard Shaw Part B “Why was Shaw on the cover of SGT. PEPPER’S?” Featured Photographer is Henry Grossman

In my last post I demonstrated that George Bernard Shaw was a vocal communist and that probably had a lot to do with his inclusion on the cover of SGT PEPPER’S but today I will look more into more this great playwright’s views. Did you know that Shaw wrote the play that MY FAIR LADY was based on? Did you know that George Bernard Shaw was a dedicated humanist too.


Monday, May 23, 2011

About the Cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The old Beatles are at left side, standing graveside, mourning their death.  Legend is this signified when the Beatles realized they could no longer tour and play live dates.  The crowds were too large, the noise was too great even for them to hear themselves playing, and the crazies and stalkers were rearing up.

So from this point forward, the new Beatles – shown front and center in their Sgt. Peppers regalia – became a studio band, safely nestled away in the Abbey Road studios.

Another reason for their departure from the stage.  By 1967, the Beatles were creating music that was so electronically complex for the time it could not be reproduced live using the technology of the day.

This was the advent of post-production effects.  For example, the rising orchestra-glissando and final chord for “Day In The Life” was produced by all 4 Beatles and George Martin banging on 3 pianos simultaneously. As the sound diminished, the recording engineer boosted to faders. The resulting note lasts 42 seconds, and the studio air conditioners can be heard toward the end as the faders were pushed to the limit to record it.

The rising orchestra-glissando and the thundering sound are reminiscent of “Entry of the Gods into Valhalla” from Richard Wagner’s opera “Das Rheingold,” where after the rising glissando, Thor beats with his hammer. George Martin said in his 1979 book All You Need is Earsthat the glissando was Lennon’s idea. After Lennon’s death, Martin seems to have changed his mind. In his 1995 book Summer of Love: The Making of Sgt. Pepper, he states that the rising orchestra-glissando was McCartney’s idea. (thanks to Johan Cavalli, who is a music historian in Stockholm).

This album cover was created by Jann Haworth and Peter Blake. They won the Grammy Award for Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts in 1968 for their work on this cover.

The celebrities and items featured on the front cover are (by row, left to right):

Top row:

Sri Yukteswar Giri (Hindu guru)
Aleister Crowley (occultist)
Mae West (actress)
Lenny Bruce (comedian)
Karlheinz Stockhausen (composer)
W. C. Fields (comedian/actor)
Carl Gustav Jung (psychiatrist)
Edgar Allan Poe (writer)
Fred Astaire (actor/dancer)
Richard Merkin (artist)
The Vargas Girl (by artist Alberto Vargas)
Huntz Hall (actor)
Simon Rodia (designer and builder of the Watts Towers)
Bob Dylan (singer/songwriter)

Second row:

Aubrey Beardsley (illustrator)
Sir Robert Peel (19th century British Prime Minister)
Aldous Huxley (writer)
Dylan Thomas (poet)
Terry Southern (writer)
Dion (singer)
Tony Curtis (actor)
Wallace Berman (artist)
Tommy Handley (comedian)
Marilyn Monroe (actress)
William S. Burroughs (writer)
Sri Mahavatar Babaji (Hindu guru)
Stan Laurel (actor/comedian)
Richard Lindner (artist)
Oliver Hardy (actor/comedian)
Karl Marx (political philosopher)
H. G. Wells (writer)
Sri Paramahansa Yogananda (Hindu guru)
Sigmund Freud (psychiatrist) – barely visible below Bob Dylan
Anonymous (hairdresser’s wax dummy)

Third row:

Stuart Sutcliffe (artist/former Beatle)
Anonymous (hairdresser’s wax dummy)
Max Miller (comedian)
A “Petty Girl” (by artist George Petty)
Marlon Brando (actor)
Tom Mix (actor)
Oscar Wilde (writer)
Tyrone Power (actor)
Larry Bell (artist)
Dr. David Livingstone (missionary/explorer)
Johnny Weissmuller (Olympic swimmer/Tarzan actor)
Stephen Crane (writer) – barely visible between Issy Bonn’s head and raised arm
Issy Bonn (comedian)
H. C. Westermann (sculptor)
Albert Stubbins (football player)
Sri Lahiri Mahasaya (guru)
Lewis Carroll (writer)
T. E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”)

Front row:

Wax model of Sonny Liston (boxer)
A “Petty Girl” (by George Petty)
Wax model of George Harrison
Wax model of John Lennon
Shirley Temple (child actress) – barely visible, first of three appearances on the cover
Wax model of Ringo Starr
Wax model of Paul McCartney
Albert Einstein (physicist) – largely obscured
John Lennon holding a Wagner Tuba
Ringo Starr holding a trumpet
Paul McCartney holding a Cor Anglais
George Harrison holding a flute
Bobby Breen (singer)
Marlene Dietrich (actress/singer)
An American legionnaire[1]
Diana Dors (actress)
Shirley Temple (child actress) – second appearance on the cover

마이 페어 레이디(My Fair Lady) 1964

The Beatles in Texas (1964)

Within You Without You- The Beatles

Below is a portion of an article from the British Humanist Association who claims that George Bernard Shaw put forth their views in his writings and I tend to agree with that assessment although I do not agree with that worldview.

How The Beatles Rocked The Kremlin Part 2/4

20th Century Humanism

The Twentieth Century – A Scientific and Secular Age


The twentieth century saw a revulsion against war, partly because of the horrors of the first and second World Wars, and partly because the mass media make us aware of atrocities and suffering all over the world. Both world wars, and especially the Nazi genocide against the Jews, made many question their faith in a loving god. We still have wars and the threats of war, but the United Nations exists to encourage negotiation and resolution of conflict by other means, and to police international law on the conduct of war and on human rights. Generally, there has been greater awareness and spread of human rights and democracy in the twentieth century.

Because of their belief that this world is the only one we have and that human problems can only be solved by humans, humanists have often been very active social reformers. The early Ethical Societies set up Neighbourhood Guilds to undertake social and educational work in city slums, where it was much needed in the days before a welfare state. Most humanists believe in democracy, open government and human rights, and support action on world poverty and the environment. Some were and are pacifists, and many are active in charities and politics. Ethical societies came together as the Ethical Union, which in the 1960s became the British Humanist Association, its first director being Harold Blackham and its first President Julian Huxley. The English social scientist and academic, and founder member of the British Humanist Association, Baroness Barbara Wootton (1897-1988) became the first woman to chair the proceedings of the House of Lords. She always spoke up for humanist causes, especially on social policy.

Religion and Philosophy

The twentieth century saw a decline in religious belief and an increase in secularisation in the developed world. Fewer people in Europe are actively religious and people are free to declare their disbelief in gods with little fear of reprisal or social disadvantage. Mobile populations and the mass media have made most parts of the world aware of a range of belief systems, and more liberal attitudes mean that people often feel free to choose a philosophy for themselves. The growth of studies such as anthropology, pioneered in Sir James Frazer’s exhaustive collection of myths and customs, showed religions as natural human creations, and encouraged a more tolerant attitude towards other cultures.

Few Christian intellectuals nowadays defend the literal truth of the Bible, but focus instead on its metaphorical truth and the exemplary life of Jesus. Religious beliefs have tended to evolve, casting some doubt in the minds of sceptics about what exactly Christians believe these days, or what they mean by “truth” or “God”. Theologians such as Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), Deitrich Bonhoeffer (1906-45), William James (1842-1910) and Paul Tillich (1886-1965), and developments such as liberation theology and the ideas of the Sea of Faith group, have done much to liberate academic Christian theology from religious dogma and to integrate secular and scientific ideas into Christianity. Many humanists today see little point in attacking beliefs that are no longer held except by a tiny minority of people.

On the other hand, there is still much popular conventional belief and there is a growing trend towards new religions and ideas, many of which are little more than superstition, and some of which are dangerous. In some countries there has been a growth in religious fundamentalism. Religion is still given special status and privileges in most countries, and non-religious people have often had to organise and campaign for their views to be heard.

Most twentieth century philosophers have worked on the assumption that morality is independent of religious faith e.g Sir Karl Popper, A J AyerG E Moore, Mary Warnock, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Wallace Matson, Antony Flew, Peter Singer, though it was still possible to cause a scandal in Britain by suggesting, as did Margaret Knight in a radio talk in the late 1950s, that morality and religion could usefully be separated.

The Arts

Despite continued laws against blasphemy, artists and intellectuals have increasingly challenged religious privilege and conventions. In the first half of this century, the Bloomsbury Group (which included J M Keynes, Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), Leonard Woolf, E M ForsterBetrand Russell) were an influential group of writers, academics and artists, who were heavily influenced by the ethical theories of G E Moore, which stressed the values of friendship and aesthetic experience. Writers such as Thomas Hardy, George Bernard Shaw, H G Wells, and Joseph Conrad, were well-known free-thinkers and the novelist Arnold Bennett (1867-1931) was an Honorary Associate of the Rationalist Press Association from 1916.

My Fair Lady “Why Can’t the English Learn to Speak”

 Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Album really did look at every potential answer to meaning in life and to as many people as the Beatles could imagine had the answers to life’s big questions. One of the persons on the cover did have access to those answers and I am saving that person for last in this series on the Beatles. 

How Should We then Live Episode 7 small (Age of Nonreason)

In this article below Francis Schaeffer tells how men such as George Bernard Shaw saw that there were two competing worldviews (Humanism and Christianity) and they sought to do away with the traditional view of truth and morality.

The Abolition of Truth and Morality – Francis A. Schaeffer

June 24, 2010

The basic problem of the Christians in this country in the last eighty years or so, in regard to society and in regard to government, is that they have seen things in bits and pieces instead of totals.

They have very gradually become disturbed over permissiveness, pornography, the public schools, the breakdown of the family, and finally abortion. But they have not seen this as a totality — each thing being a part, a symptom, of a much larger problem. They have failed to see that all of this has come about due to a shift in world view — that is, through a fundamental change in the overall way people think and view the world and life as a whole. This shift has been away from a world view that was at least vaguely Christian in people’s memory (even if they were not individually Christian) toward something completely different — toward a world view based upon the idea that the final reality is impersonal matter or energy shaped into its present form by impersonal chance. They have not seen that this world view has taken the place of the one that had previously dominated Northern European culture, including the United States, which was at least Christian in memory, even if the individuals were not individually Christian.

These two world views stand as totals in complete antithesis to each other in content and also in their natural results—including sociological and governmental results, and specifically including law.

It is not that these two world views are different only in how they understand the nature of reality and existence. They also inevitably produce totally different results, The operative word here is inevitably. It is not just that they happen to bring forth different results, but it is absolutely inevitable that they will bring forth different results.

Why have the Christians been so slow to understand this? There are various reasons but the central one is a defective view of Christianity. This has its roots in the Pietist movement under the leadership of P. J. Spener in the seventeenth century. Pietism began as a healthy protest against formalism and a too abstract Christianity. But it had a deficient, “platonic” spirituality. It was platonic in the sense that Pietism made a sharp division between the “spiritual” and the “material” world — giving little, or no, importance to the “material” world. The totality of human existence was not afforded a proper place. In particular it neglected the intellectual dimension of Christianity.

Christianity and spirituality were shut up to a small, isolated part of life. The totality of reality was ignored by the pietistic thinking. Let me quickly say that in one sense Christians should be pietists in that Christianity is not just a set of doctrines, even the right doctrines. Every doctrine is in some way to have an effect upon our lives. But the poor side of Pietism and its resulting platonic outlook has really been a tragedy not only in many people’s individual lives, but in our total culture.

True spirituality covers all of reality. There are things the Bible tells us as absolutes which are sinful — which do not conform to the character of God. But aside from these the Lordship of Christ covers all of life and all of life equally. It is not only that true spirituality covers all of life, but it covers all parts of the spectrum of life equally. In this sense there is nothing concerning reality that is not spiritual.

Related to this, it seems to me, is the fact that many Christians do not mean what I mean when I say Christianity is true, or Truth. They are Christians and they believe in, let us say, the truth of creation, the truth of the virgin birth, the truth of Christ’s miracles, Christ’s substitutionary death, and His coming again. But they stop there with these and other individual truths.

When I say Christianity is true I mean it is true to total reality — the total of what is, beginning with the central reality, the objective existence of the personal-infinite God. Christianity is not just a series of truths but Truth — Truth about all of reality. And the holding to that Truth intellectually — and then in some poor way living upon that Truth, the Truth of what is — brings forth not only certain personal results, but also governmental and legal results.

Now let’s go over to the other side — to those who hold the materialistic final reality concept. They saw the complete and total difference between the two positions more quickly than Christians. There were the Huxleys, George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), and many others who understood a long time ago that there are two total concepts of reality and that it was one total reality against the other and not just a set of isolated and separated differences, The Humanist Manifesto published in 1933, showed with crystal clarity their comprehension of the totality of what is involved. It was to our shame that Julian (1887-1975) and Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), and the others like them, understood much earlier than Christians that these two world views are two total concepts of reality standing in antithesis to each other. We should be utterly ashamed that this is the fact.

They understood not only that there were two totally different concepts but that they would bring forth two totally different conclusions, both for individuals and for society. What we must understand is that the two world views really do bring forth with inevitable certainty not only personal differences, but also total differences in regard to society, government, and law.

There is no way to mix these two total world views. They are separate entities that cannot be synthesized. Yet we must say that liberal theology, the very essence of it from its beginning, is an attempt to mix the two. Liberal theology tried to bring forth a mixture soon after the Enlightenment and has tried to synthesize these two views right up to our own day. But in each case when the chips are down these liberal theologians have always come down, as naturally as a ship coming into home port, on the side of the nonreligious humanist. They do this with certainty because what their liberal theology really is is humanism expressed in theological terms instead of philosophic or other terms.

An example of this coming down naturally on the side of the nonreligious humanists is the article by Charles Hartshorne in the January 21, 1981, issue of The Christian Century, pages 42-45. Its title is, “Concerning Abortion, an Attempt at a Rational View.” He begins by equating the fact that the human fetus is alive with the fact that mosquitoes and bacteria are also alive. That is, he begins by assuming that human life is not unique. He then continues by saying that even after the baby is born it is not fully human until its social relations develop (though he says the infant does have some primitive social relations an unborn fetus does not have).

His conclusion is, “Nevertheless, I have little sympathy with the idea that infanticide is just another form of murder, Persons who are already functionally persons in the full sense have more important rights even than infants.” He then, logically, takes the next step: “Does this distinction apply to the killing of a hopelessly senile person or one in a permanent coma? For me it does.” No atheistic humanist could say it with greater clarity. It is significant at this point to note that many of the denominations controlled by liberal theology have come out, publicly and strongly, in favor of abortion.

Dr. Martin E. Marty is one of the respected, theologically liberal spokesmen. He is an associate editor of The Christian Century and Fairfax M. Cone distinguished service professor at the University of Chicago divinity school. He is often quoted in the secular press as the spokesman for “mainstream” Christianity. In a Christian Century article in the January 7-14, 1981, issue (pages 13-17 with an addition on page 31), he has an article entitled: “Dear Republicans: A Letter on Humanisms.” In it he brilliantly confuses the terms “being human,” humanism, the humanities and being “in love with humanity.” Why does he do this? As a historian he knows the distinctions of those words, but when one is done with these pages the poor reader who knows no better is left with the eradication of the total distinction between the Christian position and the humanist one.

I admire the cleverness of the article but I regret that in it Dr. Marty has come down on the non-religious humanist side, by confusing the issues so totally it would be well at this point to stress that we should not confuse the very different things which Dr. Marty did confuse. Humanitarianisrn is being kind and helpful to people, treating people humanly. The humanities are the studies of literature, art, music, etc. — those things which are the products of human creativity. Humanism is the placing of Man at the center of all things and making him the measure of all things.

Thus, Christians should be the most humanitarian of all people. And Christians certainly should be interested in the humanities as the product of human creativity, made possible because people are uniquely made in the image of the great Creator. in this sense of being interested in the humanities it would be proper to speak of a Christian humanist, This is especially so in the past usage of that term. This would then mean that such a Christian is interested (as we all should be) in the product of people’s creativity. In this sense, for example, Calvin could be called a Christian humanist because he knew the works of the Roman writer Seneca so very well. John Milton and many other Christian poets could also be so called because of their knowledge not only of their own day but also of antiquity.

But in contrast to being humanitarian and being interested in the humanities Christians should be inalterably opposed to the false and destructive humanism, which is false to the Bible and equally false to what Man is.

Along with this we must keep distinct the “humanist world view” of which we have been speaking and such a thing as the “Humanist Society,” which produced the Humanist Manifestos I and 11(1933 and 1973). The Humanist Society is made up of a relatively small group of people (some of whom, however, have been influential — John Dewey, Sir Julian Huxley, Jacques Monod, B. F. Skinner, etc.). By way of contrast, the humanist world view includes many thousands of adherents and today controls the consensus in society, much of the media, much of what is taught in our schools, and much of the arbitrary law being produced by the various departments of government.

The term humanism used in this wider, more prevalent way means Man beginning from himself, with no knowledge except what he himself can discover and no standards outside of himself. In this view Man is the measure of all things, as the Enlightenment expressed it.

Nowhere have the divergent results of the two total concepts of reality, the Judeo-Christian and the humanist world view, been more open to observation than in government and law.

We of Northern Europe (and we must remember that the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and so on are extensions of Northern Europe) take our form-freedom balance in government for granted as though it were natural. There is form in acknowledging the obligations in society, and there is freedom in acknowledging the rights of the individual. We have form, we have freedom; there is freedom, there is form. There is a balance here which we have come to take as natural in the world. It is not natural in the world. We are utterly foolish if we look at the long span of history and read the daily newspapers giving today’s history and do not understand that the form-freedom balance in government which we have had in Northern Europe since the Reformation and in the countries extended from it is unique in the world, past and present.

That is not to say that no one wrestled with these questions before the Reformation nor that no one produced anything worthwhile. One can think, for example, of the Conciliar Movement in the late medieval church and the early medieval parliaments. Especially one must consider the ancient English Common Law. And in relation to that Common Law (and all English Law) there is Henry De Bracton. I will mention more about him in a moment.

Those who hold the material-energy, chance concept of reality, whether they are Marxist or non-Marxist, not only do not know the truth of the final reality, God, they do not know who Man is. Their concept of Man is what Man is not, just as their concept of the final reality is what final reality is not. Since their concept of Man is mistaken, their concept of society and of law is mistaken, and they have no sufficient base for either society or law.

They have reduced Man to even less than his natural finiteness by seeing him only as a complex arrangement of molecules, made complex by blind chance. Instead of seeing him as something great who is significant even in his sinning, they see Man in his essence only as an intrinsically competitive animal, that has no other basic operating principle than natural selection brought about by the strongest, the fittest, ending on top. And they see Man as acting in this way both individually and collectively as society.

Even on the basis of Man’s finiteness having people sweat in court in the name of humanity, as some have advocated, saying something like, “We pledge our honor before all mankind” would be insufficient enough. But reduced to the materialistic view of Man, it is even less. Although many nice words may be used, in reality law constituted on this basis can only mean brute force,

In this setting Jeremy Bentham’s (1748-1842) Utilitarianism can be and must be all that law means. And this must inevitably lead to the conclusion of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (1841-1935): “The life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience.” That is, there is no basis for law except Man’s limited, finite experience. And especially with the Darwinian, survival-of-the-fittest concept of Man (which Holmes held) that must, and will, lead to Holmes’ final conclusion: law is “the majority vote of that nation that could lick all others.”

The problem always was, and is, What is an adequate base for law? What is adequate so that the human aspiration for freedom can exist without anarchy, and yet provides a form that will not become arbitrary tyranny?

In contrast to the materialistic concept, Man in reality is made in the image of God and has real humanness. This humanness has produced varying degrees of success in government, bringing forth governments that were more than only the dominance of brute force.

And those in the stream of the Judeo-Christian world view have had something more. The influence of the Judeo-Christian world view can be perhaps most readily observed in Henry De Bracton’s influence on British Law. An English judge living in the thirteenth century, he wrote De Legibus et Consuetudinibus (c.1250). Bracton, in the stream of the Judeo-Christian world view, said:

And that he [the King] ought to be under the law appears clearly in the analogy of Jesus Christ, whose vice-regent on earth he is, for though many ways were open to Him for His ineffable redemption of the human race, the true mercy of God chose this most powerful way to destroy the devil’s work, he would not use the power of force but the reason of justice.

In other words, God in His sheer power could have crushed Satan in his revolt by the use of that sufficient power. But because of God’s character, justice came before the use of power alone. Therefore Christ died that justice, rooted in what God is, would be the solution. Bracton codified this: Christ’s example, because of who He is, is our standard, our rule, our measure. Therefore power is not first, but justice is first in society and law. The prince may have the power to control and to rule, but he does not have the right to do so without justice. This was the basis of English Common Law. The Magna Charta (1215) was written within thirty-five years (or less) of Bracton’s De Legibus and in the midst of the same universal thinking in England at that time.

The Reformation (300 years after Bracton) refined and clarified this further. It got rid of the encrustations that had been added to the .Judeo-Christian world view and clarified the point of authority — with authority resting in the Scripture rather than church and Scripture, or state and Scripture. This not only had meaning in regard to doctrine but clarified the base for law.

That base was God’s written Law, back through the New Testament to Moses’ written Law; and the content and authority of that written Law is rooted back to Him who is the final reality. Thus, neither church nor state were equal to, let alone above, that Law. The base for law is not divided, and no one has the right to place anything, including king, state or church, above the content of God’s Law.

What the Reformation did was to return most clearly and consistently to the origins, to the final reality, God; but equally to the reality of Man — not only Man’s personal needs (such as salvation), but also Man’s social needs.

What we have had for four hundred years, produced from this clarity, is unique in contrast to the situation that has existed in the world in forms of government. Some of you have been taught that the Greek city states had our concepts in government. It simply is not true. All one has to do is read Plato’s Republic to have this come across with tremendous force.

When the men of our State Department, especially after World War II, went all over the world trying to implant our form-freedom balance in government downward on cultures whose philosophy and religion would never have produced it, it has, in almost every case, ended in some form of totalitarianism or authoritarianism.

The humanists push for “freedom,” but having no Christian consensus to contain it, that “freedom” leads to chaos or to slavery under the state (or under an elite), Humanism, with its lack of any final base for values or law, always leads to chaos. It then naturally leads to some form of authoritarianism to control the chaos. Having produced the sickness, humanism gives more of the same kind of medicine for a cure. With its mistaken concept of final reality, it has no intrinsic reason to be interested in the individual, the human being. Its natural interest is the two collectives: the state and society.


George Bernard Shaw

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw 1936.jpg

Shaw in 1936
Born 26 July 1856
Dublin, Ireland
Died 2 November 1950 (aged 94)
Ayot St Lawrence, Hertfordshire, England
Occupation Playwright, critic, political activist
Nationality Irish
Alma mater Wesley College, Dublin
Genre Satire, black comedy
Literary movement Ibsenism, naturalism
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Literature
1925Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay
1938 Pygmalion


George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950) was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60 plays. He was also an essayist, novelist and short story writer. Nearly all his writings address prevailing social problems with a vein of comedy which makes their stark themes more palatable. Issues which engaged Shaw’s attention included education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege.

He was most angered by what he perceived as the exploitation of the working class. An ardent socialist, Shaw wrote many brochures and speeches for the Fabian Society. He became an accomplished orator in the furtherance of its causes, which included gaining equal rights for men and women, alleviating abuses of the working class, rescinding private ownership of productive land, and promoting healthy lifestyles. For a short time he was active in local politics, serving on the St Pancras Vestry.

Shaw was noted for expressing his views in uncompromising language, whether on vegetarianism (branding his own pre-vegetarian self a “cannibal“), the development of the human race (his own brand ofeugenics was driven by encouragement of miscegenation and marrying across class lines), or on political questions (in spite of his own generally liberal views he was not an uncritical supporter of democracy, and is even recorded as supporting, or at least condoning, the dictators of the 1930s).

In 1898, Shaw married Charlotte Payne-Townshend, a fellow Fabian, whom he survived. They settled in Ayot St Lawrence in a house now called Shaw’s Corner. Shaw died there, aged 94, from chronic problems exacerbated by injuries he incurred by falling from a ladder.

He is the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize in Literature (1925) and an Academy Award (1938), for his contributions to literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion (an adaptation of his play of the same name), respectively.[n 1] Shaw refused all other awards and honours, including the offer of a knighthood.

Political activism[edit]

Shaw declined to stand as an MP, but in 1897 was elected as a local councillor to the St Pancras Vestry as a Progressive. With the creation of the Metropolitan Borough of St Pancras in 1900 Shaw was elected as a borough councillor but dismissed any party label, claiming “I have not yet discovered the party that is anxious to claim me as its representative.”[10][11] He resigned from the council at the next election in 1903 as “in his view, the only perfect Council should consist of millionaires and labourers” and he was neither.[12]


Shaw’s plays were first performed in the 1890s. By the end of the decade he was an established playwright. He wrote sixty-three plays and his output as novelist, critic, pamphleteer, essayist and private correspondent was prodigious. He is known to have written more than 250,000 letters.[13] Along with Fabian Society members Sidney and Beatrice Webb and Graham Wallas, Shaw founded the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1895 with funding provided by private philanthropy, including a bequest of £20,000 from Henry Hunt Hutchinson to the Fabian Society. One of the libraries at the London School of Economics is named in Shaw’s honour; it contains collections of his papers and photographs.[14] Shaw helped to found the left-wing magazine New Statesman in 1913 with the Webbs and other prominent members of the Fabian Society.[15]

Final years[edit]

During his later years, Shaw enjoyed attending to the grounds at Shaw’s Corner. At 91 he joined the Interplanetary Society for the last three years of his life.[16] He died at the age of 94,[17] of renal failure precipitated by injuries incurred by falling while pruning a tree.[18] He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium on 6 November. His ashes, mixed with those of his wife, Charlotte Payne-Townshend, were scattered along footpaths and around the statue of Saint Joan in their garden.[19][20]



See List of works by George Bernard Shaw for listings of his novels and plays, with links to their electronic texts, if those exist.

The International Shaw Society provides a detailed chronological listing of Shaw’s writings.[21] See also George Bernard Shaw, Unity Theatre.[22]


Shaw around 1900 (aged 43).


Shaw in 1909 (aged 52).

Shaw in 1925 (aged 68), when he was awarded theNobel Prize in Literature


Short stories[edit]

Shaw writing in a notebook at the time of first production of his play Pygmalion in 1914 (aged 57).

A collection of Shaw’s short stories, The Black Girl in Search of God and Some Lesser Tales, was published in 1934.[37] The Black Girl, an enthusiastic convert to Christianity, goes searching for God. In the story, written as an allegory, somewhat reminiscent of Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Shaw uses her adventures to expose flaws and fallacies in the religions of the world. At the story’s happy ending, the Black Girl quits her searchings in favour of rearing a family with the aid of a red-haired Irishman who has no metaphysical inclination.

One of the Lesser Tales is The Miraculous Revenge (1885), which relates the misadventures of an alcoholic investigator while he probes the mystery of a graveyard—full of saintly corpses—that migrates across a stream to escape association with the body of a newly buried sinner.


By the 1910s, Shaw was a well-established playwright. New works such as Fanny’s First Play (1911) and Pygmalion (1912), had long runs in front of large London audiences. Shaw had permitted a musical adaptation of Arms and the Man (1894) called The Chocolate Soldier (1908), but he had a low opinion of German operetta. He insisted that none of his dialogue be used, and that all the character names be changed, although the operetta actually follows Shaw’s plot quite closely, in particular preserving its anti-war message. The work proved very popular and would have made Shaw rich had he not waived his royalties, but he detested it and for the rest of his life forbade musicalization of his work, including a proposed Franz Lehár operetta based onPygmalion. Several of his plays formed the basis of musicals after his death—most famously the musical My Fair Lady—it is officially adapted from the screenplay of the film version of Pygmalion rather than the original stage play (keeping the film’s ending), and librettist Alan Jay Lerner kept generous chunks of Shaw’s dialogue, and the characters’ names, unchanged.

Shaw’s outlook was changed by World War I; which he uncompromisingly opposed, despite incurring outrage from the public as well as from many friends. His first full-length piece, presented after the War, written mostly during it, was Heartbreak House(1919). A new Shaw had emerged—the wit remained, but his faith in humanity had dwindled. In the preface to Heartbreak House he said:

It is said that every people has the Government it deserves. It is more to the point that every Government has the electorate it deserves; for the orators of the front bench can edify or debauch an ignorant electorate at will. Thus our democracy moves in a vicious circle of reciprocal worthiness and unworthiness.[41]

The movable hut in the garden of Shaw’s Corner, where Shaw wrote most of his works after 1906, including Pygmalion.

Shaw had previously supported gradual democratic change toward socialism, but now he saw more hope in government by benign strong men. This sometimes made him oblivious to the dangers of dictatorships. Near his life’s end that hope failed him too. In the first act of Buoyant Billions (1946–48), his last full-length play, his protagonist asks:

Why appeal to the mob when ninetyfive per cent of them do not understand politics, and can do nothing but mischief without leaders? And what sort of leaders do they vote for? For Titus Oates and Lord George Gordon with their Popish plots, for Hitlers who call on them to exterminate Jews, for Mussolinis who rally them to nationalist dreams of glory and empire in which all foreigners are enemies to be subjugated.[42]



In a letter to Henry James dated 17 January 1909,[46] Shaw said,

I, as a Socialist, have had to preach, as much as anyone, the enormous power of the environment. We can change it; we must change it; there is absolutely no other sense in life than the task of changing it. What is the use of writing plays, what is the use of writing anything, if there is not a will which finally moulds chaos itself into a race of gods.[47]


As well as plays and prefaces, Shaw wrote long political treatises, such as Fabian Essays in Socialism (1889),[54] and The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism (1912),[55] a 495-page book detailing all aspects of socialistic theory as Shaw interpreted it. Excerpts of the latter were republished in 1928 as Socialism and Liberty,[56] Late in his life he wrote another guide to political issues, Everybody’s Political What’s What (1944).

Correspondence and friends[edit]

Shaw corresponded with an array of people, many of them well known. His letters to and from Mrs. Patrick Campbell were adapted for the stage by Jerome Kilty as Dear Liar: A Comedy of Letters,[57] as was his correspondence with the poet Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas (the intimate friend of Oscar Wilde), into the drama Bernard and Bosie: A Most Unlikely Friendship by Anthony Wynn. His letters to the prominent actress, Ellen Terry,[58] to the boxer Gene Tunney,[59] and to H.G. Wells,[60] have also been published. Eventually the volume of his correspondence became insupportable, as can be inferred from apologetic letters written by assistants.[61] Shaw campaigned against the executions of the rebel leaders of the Easter Rising, and he became a personal friend of the Cork-born IRA leader Michael Collins, whom he invited to his home for dinner while Collins was negotiating the Anglo-Irish Treaty with Lloyd George in London. After Collins’s assassination in 1922, Shaw sent a personal message of condolence to one of Collins’s sisters. He much admired (and was admired by) G. K. Chesterton.[62] When Chesterton died, Shaw mourned his death in a poignant letter to Chesterton’s widow; he had always expected that he would predecease Chesterton, being the latter’s senior by almost two decades.

Shaw also enjoyed a (somewhat stormy) friendship with T.E. Lawrence, the British Army officer renowned for his liaison role during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, as well as the Arab Revolt, which Lawrence memorialized in his book The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Lawrence even used the name “Shaw” as his nom de guerre when he joined the Royal Air Force as an aircraftman in the 1920s.


Shaw was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature (1925) for his contributions to literature. The citation praised his work as “… marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty”.[66] Shaw wanted to refuse his Nobel Prize outright because he had no desire for public honours, but accepted it at his wife’s behest: she considered it a tribute to Ireland. He did reject the monetary award, requesting it be used to finance translation of fellow playwright August Strindberg‘s works from Swedish to English.[67]

At this time Prime Minister David Lloyd George was considering recommending to the King Shaw’s admission to the Order of Merit, but the place was instead given to J. M. Barrie.[43] Shaw rejected a knighthood.[43] It was not until 1946 that the government of the day arranged for an informal offer of the Order of Merit to be made: Shaw declined, replying that “merit” in authorship could only be determined by the posthumous verdict of history.[43]

In 1938, Shaw was awarded an Oscar for his work on the film Pygmalion (adaptation of his play of the same name). The Academy Award was jointly shared with Ian Dalrymple, Cecil Lewis and W.P. Lipscomb, who had also worked on adapting Shaw’s script.[68]

Political, social, and religious views[edit]

Shaw asserted that each social class strove to serve its own ends, and that the upper and middle classes won in the struggle while the working class lost. He condemned the democratic system of his time, saying that workers, ruthlessly exploited by greedy employers, lived in abject poverty and were too ignorant and apathetic to vote intelligently.[69] He believed this deficiency would ultimately be corrected by the emergence of long-lived supermen with experience and intelligence enough to govern properly. He called the developmental process elective breeding but it is sometimes referred to as shavian eugenics, largely because he thought it was driven by a “Life Force” that led women — subconsciously — to select the mates most likely to give them superior children.[70] The outcome Shaw envisioned is dramatised in Back to Methuselah, a monumental play depicting human development from its beginning in the Garden of Eden until the distant future.[71]

In 1882, influenced by Henry George‘s view that the rent value of land belongs to all, Shaw concluded that private ownership of land and its exploitation for personal profit was a form of theft, and advocated equitable distribution of land and natural resources and their control by governments intent on promoting the commonwealth. Shaw believed that income for individuals should come solely from the sale of their own labour and that poverty could be eliminated by giving equal pay to everyone. These concepts led Shaw to apply for membership of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF), led by H. M. Hyndman who introduced him to the works of Karl Marx. Shaw never joined the SDF, which favoured forcible reforms. Instead, in 1884, he joined the newly formed Fabian Society, which accorded with his belief that reform should be gradual and induced by peaceful means rather than by outright revolution.[72] Shaw was an active Fabian. He wrote many of their pamphlets,[54] lectured tirelessly on behalf of their causes and provided money to set up The New Age, an independent socialist journal. As a Fabian, he participated in the formation of the Labour Party. The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism[55] provides a clear statement of his socialistic views. As evinced in plays like Major Barbara and Pygmalion, class struggle is a motif in much of Shaw’s writing.

Oscar Wilde was the sole literary signator of Shaw’s petition for a pardon of the anarchists arrested (and later executed) after the Haymarket massacre in Chicago in 1886.[73]

Shaw opposed the execution of Sir Roger Casement in 1916. He wrote a letter “as an Irishman”[74] to The Times, which they rejected, but it was subsequently printed by both the Manchester Guardian on 22 July 1916, and by the New York American on 13 August 1916.


After visiting the USSR in 1931 and meeting Joseph Stalin, Shaw became a supporter of the Stalinist USSR. On 11 October 1931 he broadcast a lecture on American national radio telling his audience that any ‘skilled workman … of suitable age and good character’ would be welcomed and given work in the Soviet Union.[75] Tim Tzouliadis asserts that several hundred Americans responded to his suggestion and left for the USSR.[76]

Shaw continued this support for Stalin’s system in the preface to his play On the Rocks (1933) writing:

But the most elaborate code of this sort would still have left unspecified a hundred ways in which wreckers of Communism could have sidetracked it without ever having to face the essential questions: are you pulling your weight in the social boat? are you giving more trouble than you are worth? have you earned the privilege of living in a civilized community? That is why the Russians were forced to set up an Inquisition or Star Chamber, called at first the Cheka and now the Gay Pay Oo (Ogpu), to go into these questions and “liquidate” persons who could not answer them satisfactorily.[77]

Yet, Shaw defends “the sacredness of criticism”:

Put shortly and undramatically the case is that a civilization cannot progress without criticism, and must therefore, to save itself from stagnation and putrefaction, declare impunity for criticism. This means impunity not only for propositions which, however novel, seem interesting, statesmanlike, and respectable, but for propositions that shock the uncritical as obscene, seditious, blasphemous, heretical, and revolutionary.[77]

In an open letter to the Manchester Guardian in 1933, he dismissed stories—which were later determined to be largely substantiated—of a Soviet famine as slanderous, and contrasts them with the hardships then current in the West during the Great Depression:

We desire to record that we saw nowhere evidence of such economic slavery, privation, unemployment and cynical despair of betterment as are accepted as inevitable and ignored by the press as having “no news value” in our own countries.”[78]

In the preface to On The Rocks he wrote:

It sounds simple; but the process requires better planning than is always forthcoming (with local famines and revolts as the penalty); for while the grass grows the steed starves; and when education means not only schools and teachers, but giant collective farms equipped with the most advanced agricultural machinery, which means also gigantic engineering works for the production of the machinery, you may easily find that you have spent too much on these forms of capitalization and are running short of immediately consumable goods, presenting the spectacle of the nation with the highest level of general culture running short of boots and tightening its belt for lack of sufficient food.
I must not suggest that this has occurred all over Russia; for I saw no underfed people there; and the children were remarkably plump. And I cannot trust the reports; for I have no sooner read in The Times a letter from Mr Kerensky assuring me that in the Ukraine the starving people are eating one another, than M. Herriot, the eminent French statesman, goes to Russia and insists on visiting the Ukraine so that he may have ocular proof of the alleged cannibalism, but can find no trace of it. Still, between satiety and starvation mitigated by cannibalism there are many degrees of shortage; and it is no secret that the struggle of the Russian Government to provide more collective farms and more giant factories to provide agricultural machinery for them has to be carried on against a constant clamor from the workers for new boots and clothes, and more varied food and more of it: in short, less sacrifice of the present to the future.[77]

He wrote a defence of Lysenkoism in a letter to Labour Monthly, in which he asserted that an “acquired characteristic” could be heritable, writing of Lysenko: “Following up Michurin’s agricultural experiments he found that it is possible to extend the area of soil cultivation by breeding strains of wheat that flourish in a sub-Arctic climate, and transmit this acquired characteristic to its seed.” He added:

Lysenko is on the right side as a Vitalist; but the situation is confused by the purely verbal snag that Marx called his philosophy Dialectical Materialism. Now in Russia Marx is a Pontif; and all scientists who do not call themselves Materialists must be persecuted. Accordingly, Lysenko has to pretend that he is a Materialist when he is in fact a Vitalist; and thus muddles us ludicrously. Marxism seems to have gone as mad as Weismannism; and it is no longer surprising that Marx had to insist that he was not a Marxist.[79]

Despite Shaw’s scepticism about the creation of the Irish Free State, he was supportive of Éamon de Valera‘s stance on the Second World War, including his policy of refusing to fall in line with the Allies’ demand for neutral countries to deny asylum to Axis war criminals during the war.[80] According to Shaw “The voice of the Irish gentleman and Spanish grandee was a welcome relief from the chorus of retaliatory rancor and self-righteousness then deafening us”.[81]


Shaw delivered speeches on the theory of eugenics and he became a noted figure in the movement in England.[82]

Shaw’s play Man and Superman (1903) has been said to be “invested with eugenic doctrines” and “an ironic reworking” of Nietzsche‘s concept of Übermensch.[82][83] The main character in the play, John Tanner, is the author of “The Revolutionist’s Handbook and Pocket Companion”, which Shaw published along with his play. The Revolutionist’s Handbook includes chapters on “Good Breeding” and “Property and Marriage”. In the “Property and Marriage” section, Tanner writes:

To cut humanity up into small cliques, and effectively limit the selection of the individual to his own clique, is to postpone the Superman for eons, if not for ever. Not only should every person be nourished and trained as a possible parent, but there should be no possibility of such an obstacle to natural selection as the objection of a countess to a navvy or of a duke to a charwoman. Equality is essential to good breeding; and equality, as all economists know, is incompatible with property.

In this Shaw was managing to synthesize eugenics with socialism, his best-loved political doctrine. This was a popular concept at the time.[84]

Shaw in 1905

When, in 1910, Shaw wrote that natural attraction rather than wealth or social class should govern selection of marriage partners, the concept of eugenics did not have the negative connotations it later acquired after having been adopted by the Nazis of Germany.[85] Shaw sometimes treated the topic in a light-hearted way, pointing out that if eugenics had been thought about some generations previously, he himself may not have been born, so depriving humanity of his great contributions.[86] He seems to have maintained his opinion throughout his life.[85]

As with many of the topics that Shaw addressed, but particularly so in his examination of the “social purity” movement, he used irony, misdirection and satire to make his point.[77][87][88] At a meeting of the Eugenics Education Society of 3 March 1910 he suggested the need to use a “lethal chamber” to solve their problem. Shaw said: “We should find ourselves committed to killing a great many people whom we now leave living, and to leave living a great many people whom we at present kill. We should have to get rid of all ideas about capital punishment …” Shaw also called for the development of a “deadly” but “humane” gas for the purpose of killing, many at a time, those unfit to live.[89]

In a newsreel interview released on 5 March 1931, dealing with alternatives to the imprisonment of criminals, Shaw says

You must all know half a dozen people at least who are no use in this world, who are more trouble than they are worth. Just put them there and say Sir, or Madam, now will you be kind enough to justify your existence? If you can’t justify your existence, if you’re not pulling your weight in the social boat, if you’re not producing as much as you consume or perhaps a little more, then, clearly, we cannot use the organizations of our society for the purpose of keeping you alive, because your life does not benefit us and it can’t be of very much use to yourself.[90][91]

Shaw often used satiric irony to mock those who took eugenics to inhumane extremes and commentators have sometimes failed to take this into account.[82][92] Some noticed that this was an example of Shaw satirically employing the reductio ad absurdum argument against the eugenicists’ wilder aspirations: The Globe and The Evening News recognised it as a skit on the dreams of the eugenicists, though many others in the press took his words out of their satirical context. Dan Stone of Liverpool University writes: “Either the press believed Shaw to be serious, and vilified him, or recognised the tongue-in-cheek nature of his lecture”.[92][93]


In his will, Shaw stated that his “religious convictions and scientific views cannot at present be more specifically defined than as those of a believer in Creative Evolution.”[94] He requested that no one should imply that he accepted the beliefs of any specific religious organization, and that no memorial to him should “take the form of a cross or any other instrument of torture or symbol of blood sacrifice.”[94]

Gary Sloan summarises Shaw’s religious views as follows:

Until he was thirty or so, Shaw called himself an Atheist. He became one, he later quipped, before he could think. He adjudged the doctrines of the Church of Ireland, which he attended as a child, unintelligible or absurd. Since the first of its Thirty-nine Articles describes god as “without body, parts, or passions,” he waggishly theorized that the church was atheistic. An incomprehensible god, he opined, was tantamount to no god. In 1875, he blazoned his Atheism abroad. In a letter to Public Opinion, a Dublin newspaper, he announced “with inflexible materialistic logic, and to the extreme horror of my respectable connections, that I was an atheist.” In Immaturity, the first of five novels he wrote in his twenties, the young protagonist, obviously Shaw’s alter ego, walks pensively in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey: “His hushed step, impressive bearing, and reflective calm, marked him as a confirmed freethinker.”
In “The New Theology,” he prepped his audience: “When you are asked, ‘Where is God? Who is God?’ stand up and say, ‘I am God and here is God, not as yet completed, but still advancing towards completion, just in so much as I am working for the purpose of the universe, working for the good of the whole society and the whole world, instead of merely looking after my personal ends.”‘ God “would provide himself with a perfectly fashioned and trustworthy instrument. And such an instrument would be nothing less than God himself.”[95]


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Beatles Photographer Henry Grossman on ‘Places I Remember’

In his new book, veteran photographer Henry Grossman unveils 1,000 never-before-seen images of his time with the band in the 1960s. He tells Abby Haglage how he caught their goofy side.
The Beatles’ most trusted photographer was a friend, not a fan.At 27, Henry Grossman—then employed by Life magazine—was first invited to shoot the pop stars during their 1964 appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. A New York City–born opera singer in training, Grossman didn’t like their music, but he loved them. By far the youngest photographer shooting them, he forged a lasting friendship with the group, landing him unprecedented access to their lives, which he captured in 6,000 images, more than any other photographer.In his latest, limited-edition, book, Places I Remember: My Time With the Beatles, Grossman unveils more than 1,000 photos never before seen by the public. He tells Abby Haglage what it was like traveling the world with the most popular band of all time—and what, 50 years later, he’s still remembering.What was it that made you connect with them so well?Well, I liked them! I found them witty, charming, fun, intelligent. They were bright guys—and they were only about four years younger than me. Most of the other photographers were much older than me, so I think that was part of it. But also, as a Life magazine photographer, we were taught to watch. We didn’t set up a lot of pictures, I simply captured their lives. I didn’t want things from them. As a result, it was a lot of fun.

But were you a Beatles fan at the time?

Well, I did not particularly care for Rock music, at all. I loved opera. I didn’t listen to their stuff. Some songs, like “Yesterday,” I loved. But I wasn’t a fan of their music, I was a fan of them. I never had the adoration, the awe that their fans had. I recognized the greatness I was around, definitely, but they were my friends. That made it different.

Is it true that they tried to stop you from running the first intimate photos you took of them?

Well, Brian Epstein [their manager] called me when Life magazine said they were going to syndicate some of the pictures I had taken of them in their home, and he said, “Henry, please don’t do that.” The next day, I got a cable from him that said: “Please disregard phone call. I’ve just seen the pictures. Can I have a set?” So that was good news.

When you imagine a moment with them now, what comes to mind?

I was always singing along the beach in Nassau with them, Oh, what a beautiful morning—simply because I loved that song! They caught on to that quite quickly and began singing it to me whenever I would show up to meet them. Even years later, I had a cable from George, and he started it with “Oh, what a beautiful morning!”

That’s hilarious. It seems like you were really able to see their goofy sides.

Absolutely. When I was shooting the cover for Life magazine, I said to Ringo, “I wish I had the guts to wear a tie like that.” And he came over and fingered my paisley tie, a very quiet tie I’d bought in London, and he said, “Well, Henry, if you did, you’d still be Henry, but with just a bright tie.” I thought that was justmarvelous. I loved it.

“George said to me once, ‘You know, we don’t know if this is going to last at all, Henry.’ That’s crazy to me to think about now.”

It’s clear that they really let you into their lives. Can you describe what that was like?

Well, to give an example, one day in Wales, I passed through the group of photographers waiting outside where they were staying and knocked on the door. John peeked out the curtain window, saw me, and immediately opened it and pulled me inside. The other photographers who were waiting in the courtyard were fuming and making a racket about it, saying, “Why does he get to go inside!?” When John heard them, he leaned back out to explain it: “He’s a friend of ours. He’s traveled around the world with us. If you’d traveled around the world with us, you might be inside too.” I thought that was funny.

Of the four guys, who were you closest with?

I became closer friends with George. When I would end up in London, I would call the office and leave a message for him that I was in town and he’d get back to me. We’d arrange to meet the next day or whenever. One time when I went over to George’s house, he had an instrument hanging on the wall that I didn’t recognize—it was a sitar. He took it down and told me, “I can’t get anyone to teach me how to play it.” I told him that he had enough money to find the best sitar teacher in India and ask him to come stay for the summer to teach him how to play. He took my advice but went further—and headed all the way to India!

What about Paul?

I remember one day I was standing with Paul by the water in Nassau, and I looked down and saw what appeared to be a fossil. It was a piece of coral, I think. I picked it up and handed it to Paul and said, “Look at this, you know how many millions of years it took for this to end up this way?” And he picked it up, looked me in the eye, grinned, and tossed it as far out into the ocean as he could. Then he turned to me laughing and said, “Wow, I guess we set that one back a few million years, didn’t we, Henry?”

It seems like you captured so many light moments like that. In all the time you spent with them, did you ever see them upset?

I never saw any dark days. Maybe that’s just me. I see the best things in people, and I try to capture that. But I can honestly say, I never saw a nasty or biting look from any of them. They were charming. The only time that I really saw them down was the day Brian Epstein died. I left with Jane Asher and Paul for the car ride back to London after they got the news, and the press was surrounding him trying to ask “How do you feel?” and “What’s next?” Those were definitely some down times. But I was there as a friend, not an interviewer or photographer.

What about the iconic Bob Dylan image you took outside the Delmonico in New York?

That one is interesting. I knew who Dylan was, but only got one frame off before he went into the hotel. I did not recognize Al Aronowitz until my publishers told me of the importance of that shot. I didn’t think much of the photograph, but when my publishers saw it, they flipped. I said, “What’s the matter, what’s the matter?” And they said, “You don’t understand, that’s the night Dylan introduced them to pot!”

Did you ever see them doing drugs?

No, I never saw any of that. The closest I came to it was David Crosby was smoking something, that night at the party at George’s. He asked if I wanted some. It was hash, I think. I took a smoke of it and never had it again.

Is there anything you realize now, almost 50 years later, that you missed at the time?

One of the things that I think about, looking back now, is the love and excitement that they engendered. They had no idea how long it would all last. They knew how good they were, but they were always wondering how much longer they had. George said to me once, “You know, we don’t know if this is going to last at all, Henry.” That’s crazy to me to think about now.



Related posts:



In the film MIDNIGHT IN PARIS Woody Allen the best scene of the movie is when Gil Pender encounters the SURREALISTS!!! 

This series deals with the Book of Ecclesiastes and Woody Allen films.  The first post  dealt with MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT and it dealt with the fact that in the Book of Ecclesiastes Solomon does contend like Hobbes  and Stanley that life is “nasty, brutish and short” and as a result has no meaning UNDER THE SUN.

The movie MIDNIGHT IN PARIS offers many of the same themes we see in Ecclesiastes.


In the third post in this series we discover in Ecclesiastes that man UNDER THE SUN finds himself caught in the never ending cycle of birth and death. The SURREALISTS make a leap into the area of nonreason in order to get out of this cycle and that is why the scene in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS with Salvador Dali, Man Ray, and Luis Bunuel works so well!!!! These surrealists look to the area of their dreams to find a meaning for their lives and their break with reality is  only because they know that they can’t find a rational meaning in life without God in the picture.

As Francis Bacon (a noted British artist) has put it: “I think that even when Velasquez was painting, even when Rembrandt was painting, they were still, whatever their attitude to life, slightly conditioned by certain types of religious possibilities, which man now, you could say, has had cancelled out for him.”

(Francis Bacon pictured in  Vogue, 1962)

Francis Schaeffer has put it like this: “The tragedy is not only that these talented men [artists] have reached the point of despair, but that so many who look on and admire really do not understand. They are influenced by the concepts, and yet they have never analyzed what it all means.”

Schaeffer noted that Solomon took a look at the meaning of life on the basis of human life standing alone between birth and death “under the sun.” This phrase UNDER THE SUN appears over and over in Ecclesiastes. The Christian Scholar Ravi Zacharias noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term UNDER THE SUN — What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system and you are left with only this world of Time plus Chance plus matter.” 

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11:

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil
    at which he toils under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
    but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
    and hastens to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
    and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
    and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
    but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
    there they flow again.

All things are full of weariness;
    a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
    nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done,
    and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
    “See, this is new”?
It has been already
    in the ages before us.

(Below the Queen of Sheba meets King Solomon, Tiepolo)

Francis Schaeffer noted:

Solomon is showing a high degree of comprehension of evaporation and the results of it. Seeing also in reality nothing changes. There is change but always in a set framework and that is cycle. You can relate this to the concepts of modern man. Ecclesiastes is the only pessimistic book in the Bible and that is because of the place where Solomon limits himself. He limits himself to the question of human life, life under the sun between birth and death and the answers this would give.

Ecclesiastes 1:4

English Standard Version (ESV)

A generation goes, and a generation comes,
    but the earth remains forever.


Ecclesiastes 4:16

English Standard Version (ESV)

16 There was no end of all the people, all of whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind.


In verses 1:4 and 4:16 Solomon places man in the cycle. He doesn’t place man outside of the cycle. Man doesn’t escape the cycle. Man is only cycle. Birth and death and youth and old age. With this in mind Solomon makes this statement.

Ecclesiastes 6:12

12 For who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few years of his futile life? He will spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?


There is no doubt in my mind that Solomon had the same experience in his life that I had as a younger man. I remember standing by the sea and the moon arose and it was copper and beauty. Then the moon did not look like a flat dish but a globe or a sphere since it was close to the horizon. One could feel the global shape of the earth too. Then it occurred to me that I could contemplate the interplay of the spheres and I was exalted because I thought I can look upon them with all their power, might, and size, but they could contempt nothing and I felt as man as God. Then came upon me a horror of great darkness because it suddenly occurred to me that although I could contemplate them and they could contemplate nothing yet they would continue to turn in ongoing cycles when I saw no more forever and I was crushed.

THIS IS SOLOMON’S FEELING TOO. The universal man, Solomon, beyond our intelligence with an empire at his disposal with the opportunity of observation so he could recite these words here in Ecclesiastes 6:12, “For who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few years of his futile life? He will spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?”


How do the surrealists attempt to break out of this cycle that man finds himself trapped in? They attempt to do in part by looking to their dreams. Surrealism is a 20th-century avant-garde movement in art and literature that sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind, for example by the irrational juxtaposition of images.



Francis Schaeffer pictured below:

the surrealists 1930 Salvador Dali, Paul Eluard, Max Earnst ,Man Ray,Luis Bunuel ,Joan Miro,Marcel Duchamp


Tom Cordier as Man Ray with Oscar Winner Adrian Brody as Salvador Dali alongside the two friends in real life.

Midnight in the Paris-best scene of the movie Salvador Dali, Man Ray and Woody Allen

published on Dec 18, 2012

Woody Allen talking with Salvador Dali and Man Ray and Luis Bunuel. 

This is the transcript of

DALI: We met, earlier tonight…At the party! Dali.

GIL: I remember!-

DALI: A bottle of red wine!

GIL: It can’t be… Yeah….So?

DALI: Another glass for this man, please. I love the language!The French! The waiters? No.You like the shape of the rhinoceros?

GIL: The rhinoceros? Uh…Haven’t really thought about it.I paint the rhinoceros.

DALI: I paint you. Your sad eyes.Your big lips, meltingover the hot sand,with one tear.Yes! And in your tear, another face.The Christ’s face!Yes, in the rhinoceros.

GIL: Yeah. I mean, I probably do look sad. I’m in…a very perplexing situation.

DALI: Diablo…Luis! Oye, Luis!(Damn. Luis! Hey, Luis!)My friends.This… is Luis Bunuel…and…Mr. Man Ray.-

GIL: Man Ray? My Gosh!- How ’bout that?

DALI: This is Pen-der. Pen-der. Pender!- Yes. And I am Dalí!- Dalí. Yes.You have to remember. Pender is in a perplexing situation.

GIL: It sounds so crazy to say.You guys are going tothink I’m drunk, but I have to tell someone. I’m…from a…a different time. Another era.The future. OK? I come…from the 2000th millenium to here.I get in a car, and I slide through time.

MAN RAY: Exactly correct.You inhabit two worlds.- So far, I see nothing strange.- Why?

GIL: Yeah, you’re surrealists!But I’m a normal guy. See, in one life,I‘m engaged to marry a woman I love.At least, I think I love her.Christ! I better love her! I’m marrying her!

DALI: The rhinoceros makes love by mounting the female.But…is there a difference in the beauty between two rhinoceroses?

MAN RAY: There is another woman?Adriana. Yes, and I’m…very drawn to her.I find her extremely alluring.The problem is that other men,great artists – geniuses- also find her alluring,and she finds them. So, there’s that…

MAN RAY: A man in love with a woman from a different era.I see a photograph.

LUIS BUNUEL: I see a film.I see an insurmountable problem.I see……a rhinoceros.

Let me make a few points here.

1. Surrealists like Salvador Dali, Man Ray and Luis Bunuel had accepted that life without God in the picture is absurd with no meaning or purpose.

2. In the movie MIDNIGHT IN PARIS Gil Pender is from the year 2010 but he is struck with love for Adriana who lives in 1925 and he asks the surrealists about this PERPLEXING PROBLEM. There are two elements to this perplexing problem.

A. God created us so we can’t deny that we are created for a purpose and when a person falls truly in love with another person then they have a hard time maintaining  this is only just a product of evolution and has no lasting significance. Solomon wisely noted in Ecclesiastes 3:11 “God has planted eternity in the heart of men…” (Living Bible). No wonder Bertrand Russell wrote in his autobiography, “It is odd, isn’t it? I feel passionately for this world and many things and people in it, and yet…what is it all? There must be something more important, one feels, though I don’t believe there is. I am haunted. Some ghosts, for some extra mundane regions, seem always trying to tell me something that I am to repeat to the world, but I cannot understand that message.”

B. Gil Pender explains that he has traveled through time and the Surrealists accept this because they are used to leaping into the area of nonreason in order to find a meaning for their lives. The Atheist can only come to the conclusion of despair according to Ecclesiastes,but humans many times try to go to the area of non-reason for meaning in their lives instead of turning to God!

Dustin Shramek in his article, Atheism and Death: Why the atheist must face death with despair, notes:

Francis Schaeffer illustrates this problem well. He says that we live in a two story universe. On the first story the world is finite without God. This is what Sartre, Russell, and Nietzsche describe. Life here is absurd, with no meaning or purpose. On the second story life has meaning, value, and purpose. This is the story with God. Modern man resides on the first floor because he believes there is no God. But as we have shown, he cannot live there happily, so he makes a leap of faith to the second story where there is meaning and purpose. The problem is that this leap is unjustified because of his disbelief in God. Man cannot live consistently and happily knowing life is meaningless.

Francis Schaeffer pictured below:

We can see that later in both the lives of Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali that they struggled to find a rational source of values and purpose. Schaeffer noted that in Bunuel’s film BELLE DE JOUR  (1967), Bunuel showed pictorially (and with great force) what it is like if man is a machine and also what it is like if man tries to live in the area of non-reason. In the area of non-reason man is left without categories. He has no way to distinguish between right and wrong, or even between what is objectively true as opposed to illusion or fantasy….One could view these films a hundred times and there still would be no way to be sure what was portrayed as objectively true and what was part of a character’s imagination. If people begin only from themselves and really live in a universe in which there is no personal God to speak, they have no final way to be sure of the difference between reality and fantasy or illusion (pp. 201-203).


Belle de Jour Presentation

Adrien de Van and filmmaker Luis Buñuel.

(You will notice in the last part of the 14 minute clip above, it shows how the movie “Belle de Jour” ends. Even though her husband has been shot three times which was the result of the horrible friends she had associated with, he is pictured in her dreams as recovering from his wheel chair and blindness and he gladly kisses her. Francis Schaeffer below in his film series shows how this film was appealing to “nonreason” to answer our problems.)


On November 20th, 1972, George Cukor hosted a lunch in honor of Luis Buñuel. Attendees included Robert Mulligan, William Wyler, Robert Wise, Jean-Claude Carriere, Serge Silberman, Billy Wilder, George Stevens, Alfred Hitchcock,

(Basket of Bread. Date: 1926 above)

From the book  THE GOD WHO IS THERE written in 1968 by Francis Schaeffer pages 70-72.

In his earlier days Salvador Dali (1904-1989) was a surrealist. As such he united the teaching of Dada with the concept of the Freudian unconscious, because this is what surrealism is. But at a certain point he could stand this no longer, and so he changed.

One day he painted his wife and called the picture THE BASKET OF BREAD, final title was Portrait of Galarina (1940–45)It is obvious from looking at the picture that on the day he really loved her. It is the same kind of situation as when Picasso wrote on his canvas, “I love Eva.” Before I had heard of any change in Dali, I saw a reproduction of this picture, and it was obvious that there was something different being produced. It is significant that his wife has kept this painting in her private collection.

So on this particular day Dali gave up his surrealism and began his new series of mystical paintings. He had, in fact, already painted two other pictures with the title A BASKET OF BREAD, one in 1926 and one in 1945. These just showed baskets of coarse Spanish bread. But third picture, also painted in 1945, was of his wife Galarina, and shows her with one breast exposed. Her name is written on the picture, and the wedding ring is prominent on her finger.

The second painting in his new style was called CHRIST OF SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS, painted in 1951, which now hangs in the Glasgow Art Gallery. Salvador Dali has written about this painting in a little folder on sale in the museum: “In artistic texture and technique I painted the CHRIST OF SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS in the manner in which I had already painted my BASKET OF BREAD which even then, more or less unconsciously, represented the Eucharist to me.

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What does he mean? He means that when he looks at his wife one day, really loving her, and paints here with one breast exposed, that is equated by him to the Eucharist, not in the sense that anything really happened back there in Palestine 2000 years ago, but his love jarred him into a modern type of mysticism.

In this painting he differed from Picasso’s J’aime Eva. As far as we know, Picasso never really went beyond the problems of his individual loves; but to Dali it became the key to mysticism. In order to express the leap that he felt forced to take, he picked up Christian symbols, not to express Christian concepts, but a non-rational mysticism. 

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Retrieved from on 13 Sep 2009. Resolution lowered for illustration purposes.

After these two  painting his next crucifixion was called CORPUS HYPEROULUS, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY and then later THE SACRAMENT OF THE LAST SUPPER, which is in the National Gallery of Art in Washington. This later painting expresses his thought vividly. As the viewer looks at Jesus he can see the background showing through him; he is a mist.

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This is no Christ of history. Above him stands a great human figure with arms outspread, it’s head cut off by the top edge of the picture. No one is sure what this figure is. However, it is stranger reminiscent of the “Yakso” which in Hindu art and architecture often stands behind the “saviors” (“savior” here bearing no relation to the Christian idea). Yakes and Yaksi connect vegetable life with man on one side and the complete concept of pantheism on the other. I think this is what Dali is also saying by this cut-off figure in the painting. Whether this is so or not, the symbolism of the form of the “room” is clear because it is constructed by means of the ancient Greek symbol of the universe.

In an interview Dali connects this religious interest of his later life with science’s reduction of matter to energy. “…the discoveries in quantum physics of the nature of energy, that matter becomes energy, a state of dematerialization. I realized that science is moving toward a spiritual state. It is absolutely astonishing, the eminent scientists: the declaration of Max Planck and the views of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), a great Jesuit scientist: that man in his constant evolution is coming closer to an oneness with God.”


Here he relates his own mysticism and the religious mysticism of Teilhard de Chardin to impersonal dematerialization rather than to anything personal. He is quite correct and need not have confined himself to modern liberal Roman Catholicism, but could also have included the Protestant forms of the new theology as well.

It is perfectly possible to pick up no defined Christian symbols on words and use them in this new mysticism, while giving them opposite meanings. Their use does not necessarily imply that they have Christian meanings. Dali’s secular mysticism, like the new theology, gives the philosophic other or impersonal “everything” a personal name in order to get relief by connotation from meaningless. 



Matt Chandler in his sermon on ECCLESIASTES CHAPTER ONE finishes up with this paragraph:

So this circular silliness that we find ourselves caught up in, it needs someone from BEYOND THE SUN to come break it. So the Scriptures tell us that Christ comes, John 10:10 said, to give us life to the full. You want to hear a really good translation of what’s going on in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” He’s basically saying this, “You’re living and you’re breathing, but you’re not alive. You’re just existing. In Me, there’s life. You’re existing, but you’re not living. I have come so that you might have life, what you were created for.” Now all of a sudden, these things do have meaning. Now all of a sudden, when this happens, money can just be money. Like, money no longer becomes our master. We don’t have to have to have some kind of social status. It just becomes money. So, we can give it away or buy a house and it doesn’t own us. Christ removes the futility and vanity from the soul and brings about the purpose that you and I are dying for. Everything else under the sun is running on a treadmill. My hope is that you’ll start to honestly evaluate life and that that might lead you to look BEYOND THE SUN.


The answer to find meaning in life is found in putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible is true from cover to cover and can be trusted. GOD HAS SPOKEN AND HAS NOT BEEN SILENT, BUT YOU CAN’T JUST CONTINUE TO LOOK FOR ANSWERS JUST “UNDER THE SUN.” You want some evidence that indicates that the Bible is true? Here is a good place to start and that is taking a closer look at the archaeology of the Old Testament times. Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicleof Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites6.Shishak Smiting His Captives7. Moabite Stone8Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets10. Cyrus Cylinder11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription13. The Pilate Inscription14. Caiaphas Ossuary14 B Pontius Pilate Part 214c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.
(GALA’s daughter Cécile  Éluard is pictured below)

Photo taken in 1944 after a reading of Picasso’s play El deseo pillado por la cola: Standing from left to right: Jacques Lacan, Cécile  Éluard, Pierre Reverdy, Louise Leiris, Pablo Picasso, Zanie de Campan, Valentine Hugo, Simone de Beauvoir, Brassaï. Sitting, from left to right: Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Michel Leiris, Jean Aubier. Photo by Brassaï. –

Paul Eluard, Gala et leur fille Cécile à la fin des années 1920.

Paris: The Luminous Years

gala dali

“A Friends’ Reunion” by Max Ernst. Seated L to R: Rene Crevel, Max Ernst, Dostoyevsky, Theodore Fraenkel, Jean Paulhan, Benjamin Peret, Johannes T. Baargeld, Robert Desnos. Standing: Philippe Soupault, Jean Arp, Max Morise, Raphael, Paul Eluard, Louis Aragon, Andre Breton, Giorgio de Chirico, Gala Eluard. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Man Ray : Nusch Eluard, Valentine Penrose, Roland Penrose, Paul Eluard, Pablo Picasso, Cécile Eluard vers 1937


Related posts:

A list of the most viewed posts on the historical characters mentioned in the movie “Midnight in Paris”

Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris” (Part 38,Alcoholism and great writers and artists)

The characters referenced in Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris” (Part 36, Alice B. Toklas, Woody Allen on the meaning of life)

Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris” (Part 35, Recap of historical figures, Notre Dame Cathedral and Cult of Reason)

The characters referenced in Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris” (Part 34, Simone de Beauvoir)

The characters referenced in Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris” (Part 33,Cezanne)

The characters referenced in Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris” (Part 32, Jean-Paul Sartre)

The characters referenced in Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris” (Part 31, Jean Cocteau)

The characters referenced in Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris” (Part 30, Albert Camus)

The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 29, Pablo Picasso)


WOODY WEDNESDAY At 79, Woody Allen Says There’s Still Time To Do His Best Work JULY 29, 2015 5:03 PM ET


Woody Allen – The Atheist

JULY 29, 2015 5:03 PM ET
When asked about his major shortcomings, filmmaker Woody Allen says, "I'm lazy and an imperfectionist."

When asked about his major shortcomings, filmmaker Woody Allen says, “I’m lazy and an imperfectionist.”

Thibault Camus/AP

Woody Allen is a prolific filmmaker — he’s been releasing films pretty much every year since the mid-1960s. (His latest, Irrational Man, is now in theaters.) But Allen isn’t exactly prolific as an interview subject. When film critic Sam Fragoso sat down with Allen in Chicago, the filmmaker revealed his insecurities (well, not so much revealed as reiterated), and discussed why actors like to work with him and what he regrets.

Allen also discussed his relationship with his wife, Soon-Yi Previn, whom he met when he was in a relationship with actress Mia Farrow. Previn is Farrow’s adopted daughter and is 35 years younger than Allen.

Sam Fragoso: You’re more prolific than most people.

Woody Allen: But prolific is a thing that’s not a big deal. It’s not the quantity of the stuff you do; it’s the quality. A guy like James Joyce will do just a couple of things, but they resonate way beyond anything I’ve ever done or ever could dream of doing.

Would you say your quality, in spots, dipped because of the quantity?

It always [has]. When you start out to make a film, you have very big expectations and sometimes you come close. When I did Match Point, I felt I came very close. But you never get that thing that you want. You always set out to make Citizen Kane or to makeThe Bicycle Thief and it doesn’t happen. You can’t set out to make something great head-on; you just have to make films and hope you get lucky.

Have you considered scaling back, making a film every few years?

It wouldn’t help. It’s not that I feel, “Oh, if I had more time or more money, I could make this better.” It’s coming to terms with the shortcomings in one’s own gift and one’s own personality.

What are your major shortcomings?

I’m lazy and an imperfectionist. Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese will work on the details until midnight and sweat it out, whereas for me, come 6 o’clock, I want to go home, I want to have dinner, I want to watch the ballgame. Filmmaking is not [the] end-all be-all of my existence. Another shortcoming is that I don’t have the intellect or the depth or the natural gift. The greatness is not in me. When you see scenes in [Akira] Kurosawa films … you know he’s a madman on the set. There would be 100 horses and everything had to be perfect. He was crazy. I don’t have any of that.

You wouldn’t consider yourself crazy?

No, no. My problem is that I’m middle-class. If I was crazy I might be better. That probably accounts for my output. I lead a very sensible life: I get up in the morning, I work, I get the kids off to school, do the treadmill, play the clarinet, take a walk with my wife. It’s usually the same walk every day. If I were crazy, it would help. If I shrieked on the set and demanded, it may be better, but I don’t. I say, “Good enough!” It’s a middle-class quality, which does make for productivity.

You’re never bored.

Look, we all have to make a living in life and do something. Making films, by the general standard of jobs, is a very good one. You work with very gifted people. I work with beautiful women and good men.

Most performers want to work with you.

There are two factors:

1) I give them good parts to play and they are artists and they don’t want to keep doing blockbuster movies. They want to act in something.

2) But they want to work with me when the blockbuster movie hasn’t offered them anything. If I offer them something and then Jurassic Park offers them something, they take Jurassic Park because of the money.

The way you describe filmmaking, it comes across as a job first, passion second, so where do you find happiness?

It’s not a tedious chore; it’s a pleasant way to make a living. I like playing music, I like being with the family, but I don’t have any ecstatic highs. I’m not like Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I enjoy working. If it’s 7 in the morning and you’re on the set and there’s Scarlett Johansson or Emma Stone, and you’re dealing for a year with costumes and music … it’s like arts and crafts, you’re making a collage. But I’m not someone who does heroin.

Have you experimented with drugs recreationally or for creative purposes?

I’ve never done any drugs whatsoever. I’ve never taken a puff of marijuana. I’ve never taken a recreational pill of any sort. I can barely bring myself to take two Extra Strength Excedrin.

Not once?

No, and I don’t even have the curiosity. People say all the time, “Aren’t you curious?” But I’m not a curious person. I’m not curious to travel, but I do because my wife likes it. I’m not curious to see other places, I’m not curious to try new things. I go to the same restaurants all the time, and my wife is always saying, “Let’s try something new!” I don’t enjoy that. When Elaine’s was open in New York, I ate every dinner, seven nights a week, for 10 [to] 12 years.

I’m still surprised you’ve never taken a hit from a joint.

And I was right in the thick of it. I would play [the Chicago nightclub] Mr. Kelly’s and the [San Francisco nightclub] Hungry I and college concerts in the ’60s, and afterwards everyone would be doing it. All the folk acts, the rock acts. The subject of drugs never interests me. There are a lot of subjects that don’t hold my attention. I’m not interested in technology. I don’t have a computer. I’m not interested in traveling, popular music. I can’t bring myself to get motivated.

And yet you’re making a series for an online audience with Amazon.

Right, I’ve never seen one. I think they’re going to be embarrassed. They’re going to regret that they started up with me. I’m doing my best. I’m working a six-episode series.

They’re no good?

I have grave doubts about them. I thought it was going to be an easy score. Movies are not easy, but it’s not a cinch. I don’t want to disappoint them.

After all these years of making movies about death (the fear of it, how to beat it, etc.), do you feel, at 79, any better about it all?

You don’t beat that anxiety. You don’t mellow when you get older and gain a Buddhist acceptance.

Is it worse now?

It’s not worse; it’s the same. If you wake up in the middle of the night, at 20, contemplating your extinction, you have the same feeling at 60 and 80. You’re hardwired to fight to live. You can’t give logical reasons why, but you’re hardwired to survive. You would prefer not to. You would prefer that the life story was a different scenario, but it’s not.

How long have you been seeing an analyst?

Well, not continually. I was in analysis when I was 20 and then stopped for a while, then saw a shrink when I was a little older. I’ve been in and out. Now I check in once a week just to charge the batteries.

Has it helped?

It’s funny, it’s helped, but not as much as I’ve wanted. Years ago, I remember, I brought my clarinet into the repair shop, and the guy took two weeks and put new pads on and everything. When I went in, I said, “Thank you, but am I going to sound better?” And he said, “Yes, you will sound better, but not as much as you’d like to.” The truth is you can’t get what you want.

Are you suggesting people can’t get better?

I do think you get better to a certain degree. Every case is different. It depends how close you are to getting better by yourself. If someone is close to it, the shrink can give you that little push and they make it.

Where/when have you experienced that push?

When I first started to be a comedian, I used to have the fantasy all the time that they’d hate me. I’m going to get on stage and they’re not going to like me. The problem was — psychologically, but unbeknownst to me — I was worried I was not going to like them. And that was causing me anxiety, which I transferred to, “They’re not going to like me.” That was a significant contribution of relieving the anxiety of going on stage.

Also, when I was 19 I was married.

What was that?

It was fine! It got me out of my parent’s house and got me into New York City and reality. My wife was a nice, smart person, but I would sometimes become nauseated during the night and I kept thinking it was the food. “Oh, I shouldn’t have eaten at the Chinese restaurant, the Italian food.” It was anxiety, and when someone finally pointed it out to me that it wasn’t the food causing me those stomach problems, it was a big help.

You didn’t like the people.

I never liked people.

What’s your problem with people?

I think some of them are wonderful, but they are so many of them that are not. I was one of the few guys rooting for the comet to hit the Earth. Statistically, more people that deserved to go would go.

Would you consider yourself a good person?

I would consider myself … decent as I got older. When I was younger I was less sensitive, in my 20s. But as I got older and began to see how difficult life was for everybody, I had more compassion for other people. I tried to act nicer, more decent, more honorable. I couldn’t always do it. When I was in my 20s, even in my early 30s, I didn’t care about other people that much. I was selfish and I was ambitious and insensitive to the women that I dated. Not cruel or nasty, but not sufficiently sensitive.

You viewed women as temporary fixtures?

Yes, temporary, but as I got older and they were humans suffering like I was … I changed. I learned empathy over the years.

Do you have any major regrets?

Oh! My biggest regret — I have so many, trivial ones and big ones — is that I didn’t finish college. I allowed myself to get thrown out. I couldn’t care less about it at the time. I regret that I didn’t have a more serious life; that my films were too entertaining when I started. I wanted to be [Ingmar] Bergman.

But you contributed joy to the world through laughter.

Yes, that’s what got me by. It saved me. But it was the easy road when I started, and I did it. If I had it to do over again, I would be a more dedicated artist. I would’ve been more serious right from the start. People could look at that and say, “You’re nuts. Those are the only movies of yours that we enjoyed. Whenever you’ve tried to be serious or tried to be meaningful, we walk out.”

That’s dialogue from [your film] Stardust Memories.

You’re right, and it may just be that the amount of depth I have, and the talent to amuse that I have, goes up to three, and that’s where it is and I did very nicely with it.

You make it sound like your life is over.

Well, I am 80 in a few months. Who knows what I can count on? My parents lived long, but that’s not guarantee of anything. It’s too late to really reinvent oneself. All I can do is try to do good work so that people can say, “In his later years, in his last years, he did some of his best work.” Great.

Since you are nearing 80, I’m curious: Do you still believe “love fades,” as Annie Hall claims?

It fades almost all the time. Once in a while you get lucky and get into a relationship that lasts a very long time. Even a lifetime. But it does fade. Relationships are the most difficult thing people deal with. They deal with loneliness, meeting people, sustaining relationships. You always hear from people, “Well, if you want to have a good relationship you have to work at it.” But there’s nothing else in your life that you really love and enjoy that you have to work at. I love music, but I don’t have to work at it. A guy likes to go out boating on the weekends, he doesn’t think, “Oh, I have to work at it.” He can’t wait to leave work to get to it. That’s the way you have to feel about your relationship. If you feel that you have to work at it — a constant business of looking the other way, sweeping stuff under the rug, compromising — it’s not working.

Do you feel that way now with [your wife] Soon-Yi Previn?

I lucked out in my last relationship. I’ve been married now for 20 years, and it’s been good. I think that was probably the odd factor that I’m so much older than the girl I married. I’m 35 years older, and somehow, through no fault of mine or hers, the dynamic worked. I was paternal. She responded to someone paternal. I liked her youth and energy. She deferred to me, and I was happy to give her an enormous amount of decision-making just as a gift and let her take charge of so many things. She flourished. It was just a good-luck thing.

Luck is something you play with in your movies often.

Yes, I’m a big believer in that.

But when you found Soon-Yi, when did you know that this relationship worked? I must say from afar — to the general public — it’s a bit harder to understand.

I thought it was ridiculous.

So run me through your thought process back in late ’80s.

I started the relationship with her and I thought it would just be a fling, it wouldn’t be serious. But it had a life of its own. And I never thought it would be anything more. Then we started going together, then we started living together, and we were enjoying it. And the age difference didn’t seem to matter. It seemed to work in our favor, actually.

She enjoyed being introduced to many, many things that I knew from experience, and I enjoyed showing her those things. She took them, and outstripped me in certain areas that I showed her. That’s why I’m a big believer in luck. I feel that you can’t orchestrate those things. Two people come along, and they have a trillion exquisite needs and neuroses and nuances, and they have to mesh. And if one of them doesn’t mesh, it causes a lot of trouble. It’s like the trace vitamin not being in your body. It’s a tiny little thing, but if you don’t have it, you die.

The separation between church and state, artists and their personal lives — do you think the allegations [that you sexually abused your adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow] have affected how people approach your movies?

I would say no. I always had a small audience. People did not come in great abundance, and they still don’t, and I’ve maintained the same audience over the years. If the reviews are bad, they don’t come. If the reviews are good, they probably come.

You really don’t believe they carry that external baggage into the theater?

Not for a second. It has no meaning in the way I make movies, too. I never see any evidence of anything in my private life resonating in film. If I come out with a film people want to see, they flock to see it, which means they see it to the degree of Manhattan or Annie Hall or Midnight in Paris. That’s my outer limits. If I come out with a film they don’t want to see, they don’t come.

At the end of it all, what do you want to be remembered for?

People always ask me this now that I’m turning 80, but I don’t really care. It wouldn’t matter to me, aside from the royalties to my kids, if they took all my films and dumped them. You and I could be standing over [William] Shakespeare’s grave, singing his praises, and it doesn’t mean a thing. You’re extinct.

Sam Fragoso is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Playboy and elsewhere. A book of his interviews with emerging filmmakers, titled Talk Easy, will be published by The Critical Press in 2016.

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JUNE 1, 2015

midnight-in-paris-movie-poster-2011-1020695872Each month in TAP, we select a Movie of the Month to help prepare our students for their overseas trip. This month we’re starting to prepare for our 2016 adventure in France and the Benelux countries, so we’ve selected the Woody Allen film,Midnight in Paris, to watch first.  The big question, of course, is what is this movie about?

Well, this is one of those movies that is just about so much.  First, it’s about the idea that being somewhere else is better than being here.  That’s an idea that’s near and dear to TAP’s heart, and it’s one of the reason why we’ve continued to travel the world with students for the ten years now.  It’s not that home is a bad place, it’s that home isn’t the only place, and history books aren’t the only way to learn.  In the movie, an American author named Gil Pender (played by Owen Wilson), who is vacationing in Paris while trying to complete his novel.  In the movie he visits a bunch of places that we’ll see on our trip (the Palace of Versailles, Monet’s gardens in Giverny, the used book stalls along the Seine River, Notre Dame, and the Eiffel Tower) and many places we could visit during our free time (The Musee de l’Orangerie, the Rodin Museum gardens, and the Moulin Rouge).

Gil’s trouble is that creatively he’s stuck, but suddenly he’s magically transported back in time to the 1920s in Paris.  In TAP, we’re lucky enough to travel the world, but how amazing would it be to travel the world and visit different time periods too?  That’s what Gil gets to experience.

It’s also sort of about the famous question, “If you could have dinner with any three people from history, living or dead, who would you choose?”  Gil gets to experience that.  The 1920s in Paris was a time in between WWI and WWII when authors and artists from all over the world settled in the City of Lights, forming an incredibly creative community we call The Lost Generation. Gil gets to meet authors like Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Stein, Faulkner, Barnes, and Eliot along with artists and musicians like Dali, Cole Porter, Picasso, and Matisse, who hung out and talked about art and literature while sitting in cafes, drinking in bars, and dancing the night away in Paris’ hottest clubs.  What better place for Gil to get transported to?

It’s also about the very simple idea that there’s just something magical about Paris.  I’ve been lucky enough to travel to a lot of places, but there is no place that has quite the same magic as Paris.  You guys will know that soon.  There’s just something unbelievably special about Paris, and I’d be a fool to try and put into words what that is.  Far greater writers than me have made that effort and have failed, so you’re just going to have to wait and see what that feeling is like first hand next year.

For the time being, though, you can watch Gil travel back in time, meet his idols, and stroll through the magical streets of Paris.  Every time I’ve been to Paris since seeing this movie, I can not help but hope a magical limo will transport me to different times in Paris’ past.  This movie, unlike any other, captures a little bit of that magic that you feel what strolling through the City of Lights.

While you’re watching the movie, here’s a little Lost Generation guidebook to help you better understand and connect with what’s going on.

The Lost Generation

The term “Lost Generation” refers to the generation that grew up and became adults during World War I.  The phrase was popularized by the American author Ernest Hemingway in his novel The Sun Also Rises, which was written about the group of “lost” artists (writers, painters, actors, musicians…) who found one another in 1920s Paris.  Hemingway claims the phrase actually comes from his mentor, another American author living in Paris during that time, Gertrude Stein.

Hemingway kept journals during the time he was living in Paris, and after his death, those thoughts were published as a memoir called A Moveable Feast.  If you really want to know what it was like to be Hemingway or one of his friends, that book would give you incredible insight into their lives.  Some of the cafes and bars that Hemingway talks about in the book are still there today, and, if you do your research, maybe you can have lunch where Hemingway ate.

In A Moveable Feast, Hemingway explains that Stein heard an auto mechanic call that generation a “generation perdue,” or a lost generation.  Stein, who was a great deal older than the younger authors and artists she mentored, said to Hemingway, “That is what you are.  That is what you all are… all of you young people who served in the war.  You are a lost generation.  In this context, lost doesn’t mean missing, but disoriented, wandering, aimless, or directionless – which is recognizing the fact that there was a great deal of confusion and lack of direction among the young men (and women) who served in WWI in the years following the war.

Below is a very good video that explains the existence and influence of this Lost Generation.

Corey Stoll in Midnight in Paris alongside the real Papa Hemingway.

Corey Stoll in Midnight in Paris alongside the real Papa Hemingway.  Interestingly enough, Stoll is set to play the villain, Yellowjacket, in the next Marvel movie – Ant-Man.

Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway, who is originally from Oak Park, Illinois (near the Brookfield Zoo – and you can still visit two of the houses he lived in there), plays a key role in the movie, and is probably the most famous member of this “lost generation” of artists.

During his lifetime, Hemingway wrote seven novels, six collections of short stories, and two nonfiction books.  Several more pieces (like A Moveable Feast) were published after his death.  He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954 and is considered one of the greatest American writers ever.

He was born and raised right here in Illinois, and soon after graduating high school, he enlisted in the military to help in WWI.  Working as an ambulance driver near the front lines, Hemingway was seriously injured.  These experiences became his novel, A Farewell to Arms.

Shortly after the war, he married and moved to Paris.  He worked as a journalist, but also found himself amongst other American, British, and Irish authors and artist known as the “lost generation.”  During this time, he wrote and published The Sun Also Rises.  Later, living up to the concept of being “lost” he found himself reporting (and on some levels) participating in the Spanish Civil War.  He turned that experience into For Whom the Bell Tolls (Mr. Curtis’ favorite Hemingway book).  He made his way to London, then back to France.  Acting as a reporter, he was there for both the D-Day landings at Normandy and later, the liberation of Paris.

Later he became a big game hunter in Africa, lived in Cuba and in Key West, Florida, eventually retiring to Idaho, where he committed suicide in 1961, just weeks before his 62nd birthday.  Throughout his life, four marriages, and countless adventures, he always appeared to be “lost.”

If you’re anything like me, and I imagine a lot of you are, you’ll want to check out some of Hemingway’s (and the other members of the Lost Generation’s) favorite spots while we’re in Paris. Many of them still exist.

Of course, this isn’t required viewing, but you might want to know a bit more about Hemingway.  This biography should get you ready for your trips, and have you wishing, just like Gil (from the movie) you could travel back to Paris of the 1920s too.

Yves Heck from the film and Cole Porter.

Yves Heck from the film and Cole Porter.

Cole Porter

Cole Porter appears in Midnight in Paris for only a few moments, but his music is heard throughout and plays an important role.

Despite the wishes of his wealthy family in Indiana, Cole Porter was an American musician, composer, and songwriter.  He began writing for Broadway in the 1920s, and by the 1930s he was one of the most successful composers around.

Before that, in 1917, when the United States entered WWI, Porter moved to Paris to work with the relief organizations.  He joined the French Foreign Legion and served in the war in North Africa.  During his military service, he had a portable piano that he could carry on his back so that he could entertain the troops.

After the war, Porter lived in a luxurious apartment in Paris, where he held extravagant and scandalous parties.  Porter’s “lost”-ness was part the artistic lifestyle his family did not want him to pursue, part the aftereffects of the war, and part the fact that he was homosexual in an era where his lifestyle was not widely accepted here at home.

Porter eventually married Linda Lee Thomas, a rich American divorcee.  She was well aware of his homosexuality, but his success and status in society gave her better social position, and she enabled him to hide his true self publically, where his lifestyle was not accepted.

He was very successful in the 1930s and 40s, but a horseback riding accident in the late 30s left him severely crippled.  After the deaths of his wife and mother in the early 50s, Porter’s injury became too much for him.  His leg was amputated in 1958, and he never wrote music again.  He died six years later, having been isolated from all but his few closest friends for those final years.

For a little bit more about Porter, check out the video below – his life in Paris begins at about the 10:30 mark, and it continues into the first few minutes of part two of the video (which will have a link at the end of this video).  Be sure to watch long enough into part two to hear some of Porter’s timeless show tunes like Anything Goes, I Get a Kick out of You, and Let’s Fall in Love.

Allison Pill & Tom Hiddleston and Zelda & Scott Fitzgerald

Allison Pill & Tom Hiddleston and Zelda & Scott Fitzgerald.  Does Hiddleston look familiar to you?  He’s Loki in several of the Marvel movies – one of two actors that play famous authors in this film and villains in a Marvel movie.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Scott Fitzgerald was an American author, from Minnesota, who wrote both novels and short stories.   He is considered by many to be one of the greatest American authors of all time. He and Hemingway formed a close friendship during their years in Paris.

Fitzgerald, along with his wife, Zelda, spent a great deal of time in Paris in the 1920s.  He befriended Hemingway and several other members of the American expatriate (means citizens of one country living in another) community.  During his time in Paris, Fitzgerald wrote countless short stories for American magazines and also worked on his novels The Great Gatsby (which Hemingway read an early draft of) and Tender is the Night (which is partially about his time in Paris with Zelda).

Although he is now considered one of the greatest authors of the 20th century, Fitzgerald’s his first novel was the only one that sold well enough to support the extravagant lifestyle that he and Zelda lived. The Great Gatsby, now considered his masterpiece, did not become popular until after Fitzgerald died.

Because he lived beyond his means, and due to the medical care that Zelda later needed, Fitzgerald was constantly in money trouble.  He often took loans from his agent and friends.  The financial mess, his wife’s mental illnesses, his own alcoholism, and the fact that his work was poorly received by critics of the time and did not sell well, all took it’s toll on Fitzgerald.

Zelda Fitzgerald

Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda, was also an author.  Zelda was brought up in the American south in a wealthy family who felt Scott was not successful enough for her.  This motivated him to move forward from selling short stories to magazines to writing his first novel.  However, Scott’s friend, Ernest Hemingway, felt that while the couple lived in France, Zelda intentionally sabotaged Scott’s writing by luring him away from work with parties and alcohol.

Their marriage suffered greatly under the weight of financial troubles, his alcoholism, and her mental illness.  For much of the 1920s, the two lived unhappily, Scott focused on his writing, but not progressing as much as he’d like with Zelda distracting him – and Zelda bored.  They both mined their relationship for writing material and Zelda’s 1932 novel Save Me the Waltz was a semi-autobiographical look at their declining relationship.  The book itself didn’t help matters, as it touched on many of the themes and incidents Scott was drawing from for Tender is the Night, which he worked on for years and finally published in 1934.

Scott Fitzgerald died of a heart attack in 1940.  He hadn’t seen Zelda, who was in and out of mental health facilities for several years.  She died in a fire in a mental hospital in 1948.

Academy Award winner Kathy Bates and Gertrude Stein.

Academy Award winner Kathy Bates and Gertrude Stein.

Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein was an American author, poet, and playwright. She served as sort of the matriarch for the lost generation of American expatriate artists living in Paris in the 1920s.  She hosted salons (small parties for artists and writers to discuss art, music, literature, and culture) at her home and Paris every Saturday.  Many of the younger writers and artists living in Paris at the time saw Stein as a mentor of sorts, so the regular Saturday salons were an effort to make sure she had the rest of the week to work on her own writing instead of being constantly interrupted.  Regular attendees of the salons (which are shown in the movie) included Picasso, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, Ezra Pound, Thornton Wilder, and Henri Matisse – among many others.

Stein’s most famous work is The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, which isn’t really an autobiography at all.  Alice B. Toklas was Stein’s long time romantic partner.  The two lived together in Paris for almost forty years.  During Stein’s salons, Toklas would act as hostess and entertain the wives and girlfriends of the authors and artists Stein would work with.  The book is a look at the years the couple spent in Paris told through Alice’s eyes.

Stein is arguably the most important person in all of this.  Here’s a mini-biography of her.

Sonia Rolland and Josephine Baker.

Sonia Rolland and Josephine Baker.

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker was an American-born actress, singer, and dancer.  She was sometimes known as the Black Pearl or the Bronze Venus.  Baker, who was African-American, refused to perform for segregated audiences in America, so she moved to France, became a French citizen, and became incredibly famous and successful in Paris.  She was considered to be the most successful American entertainer working in Paris.  Not only were the French more tolerant of homosexuals (like Cole Porter, Gertrude Stein, and Oscar Wilde) in the 1920s than Americans were, but there wasn’t the racial segregation that we had here in the States.

Baker’s act, which was unique and quite risque, became the talk of Paris.  She began starring in movies, as well as dancing on stage, and she became a muse of sorts to other artists like Picasso, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, and Christian Dior.  In the movie, Gil sees her for just a few moments dancing at Chez Bricktop’s, a nightclub.

Marcial Di Fonzo Bo and the real Pablo Picasso.

Marcial Di Fonzo Bo and the real Pablo Picasso.

Pablo Picasso

One of Spain’s most successful painters and sculptors, Pablo Picasso spent most of his adult life living in France.  He is considered one of the best and most influential artists of the 20th century.  Known for helping found the cubist style, the collage, and many other artistic movements, Picasso achieved international fame.

During the 1920s, Picasso was living in Paris with his wife, who introduced him to the high society and social life of wealthy Paris.  This wasn’t Picasso’s style, he preferred to live a more isolated life, so a wedge was driven between the two.  Eventually, Picasso started an affair with a younger woman and his marriage fell apart.  This was just the first in a series of affairs, as Picasso had four children with three different women.  He never divorced his wife, though, as it would have been too expensive for him to do so.  Their marriage ended when she died in the 1950s.   He eventually remarried and continued to work until his death in 1973.  Gil meets Picasson at Gertrude Stein’s house while he is showing Stein a new piece of art, and his mistress, the fictional Adrianna looks on.

Here’s a video about Picasso, his time in France, and some of the works you can see while we’re in Paris.  The modern art museums aren’t in the itinerary, though, so you’ll have to plan to see it during free time if it’s something you want to see.   That’s definitely something you can do, you just have to plan ahead.

Tom Cordier as Man Ray with Oscar Winner Adrian Brody as Salvador Dali alongside the two friends in real life.

Tom Cordier as Man Ray with Oscar Winner Adrian Brody as Salvador Dali alongside the two friends in real life.

Salvador Dali

Another Spanish artist living in Paris at the time was Salvador Dali.  Dali had achieved a small amount of success in Spain, but in the late 20s he traveled to Paris where he was introduced to Picasso, whom he idolized.  Picasso had heard of Dali through mutual friends and took the younger artist under his wing.

Dali is best known for his surrealistic work, like The Persistence of Memory (which you probably know as the painting with the melting clocks), but he was also a sculptor, a filmmaker, and a photographer.  The movie portrays his collaboration with filmmaker Luis Bunuel, and it was during the making of that film that Dali met his future wife, Gala.  The two of them lived in Paris, as the surrealist movement grew and Dali became more and more famous, until WWII broke out, then the two moved to the United States.

The Dali scene in Midnight in Paris is one of my favorite’s in the movie.  It perfectly shows you that Dali was a weird dude.  There’s a museum of his work in the Monmartre neighborhood of Paris, and that’s another option for your free time.  The video below gives you a sneak preview of that museum.

Man Ray

Emmanuel Radnitzky, known better as Man Ray, was an American artist who lived much of his life in France.  He was an important contributor to the surrealist movements (like Dali), and considered himself a painter and photographer.  He moved to Paris in 1921, eventually meeting (and photographing) James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and other important figures.  He befriended Picasso and soon became a regular figure at Stein’s Saturday salons.

Actor David Lowe and poet T.S. Eliot.

Actor David Lowe and poet T.S. Eliot.

T.S. Eliot

An American poet, considered one of the most influential poets of the 20th century, T.S. Eliot spent most of his adult life living in Europe.  He spent a year in Paris in the early 1900s, near the end of his college years, and returned often.  His time in Paris influenced his writing a great deal, even his most famous poem, which is often considered the best poem of the 20th century,The Waste Lands.  

During one trip in 1920, Eliot met another writer, the Irishman James Joyce (another writer who lived in Paris).  It’s said that Eliot didn’t like Joyce at first, and that Joyce didn’t think much of Eliot’s poetry – however, the two eventually became very close friends, and Eliot visited Joyce everytime he went to Paris.  Joyce, for whatever reason, is not included in the movie.

Gil meets him one night while getting into the magical limo, and Gil gushes about one of Eliot’s most famous works, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

Shop owner Sylvia Beach and writer James Joyce in the doorway of the original Shakespeare and Co. bookstore in Paris.

Shop owner Sylvia Beach and James Joyce at the original Shakespeare and Co. bookstore.

James Joyce

Okay, I just said James Joyce isn’t in the movie, Midnight in Paris, but he is mentioned by Gil (Owen Wilson) in a key scene. Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers of the 20th century.  He is best known for his novels , Ulysses, A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, and Finnegans Wake.

Joyce finished writing Ulysses while living in Paris.  He was just starting to gain a bit of fame, so he was able to stay in Paris and socialize with the other literary figures living in the city – he spent a great deal of time at the bookshop, Shakespeare and Company (more on the bookshop below) to meet other writers.  Many people consider Ulysses among the greatest novels ever written, but it was banned in England, Ireland, and America and no company would publish it.  Instead, Sylvia Beach, owner of Shakespeare and Company published the first edition of the classic.

Joyce left Paris in the early 40s when the Nazi occupation of France began.  Beach also closed the shop during the occupation (don’t worry, it’s back).

Apparently Henry Matisse is blurry in real life and in film. On the left is actor Yves-Antoine Spoto, on the right the real Matisse.

Apparently Henry Matisse is blurry in real life and in film. On the left is actor Yves-Antoine Spoto, on the right the real Matisse.

Henri Matisse

French artist, Henri Matisse, was known primarily as a painter, but also worked as draughtsman, a printmaker, and a sculptor.  Along with Picasso, he is thought to be one of the one of the most influential artists of his time.

Gertrude Stein, along with her brothers and sister-in-law, was a great supporter of Matisse and bought a lot of his work to display in her home. In some ways, it was Matisse who was responsible for starting the regular salons.  Matisse was so proud of his work being displayed at Stein’s home that he would bring people to see it regularly.  It became somewhat of a nuisance, and Stein was unable to get any of her own work done, so she started the Saturday salons to give everyone a chance to socialize and share on her schedule.

In the early 1900s, Matisse met Picasso at one of the Saturday salons (he also meets Gil at Stein’s house).  The two artists quickly became great friends and rivals.  Matisse’s style was much more realistic and detailed than Picasso’s but the two men, along with other artists they socialized with at Stein’s salons, were a great influence to one another.

Some of Matisse’s work is on display at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, another free time option.  Here’s a brief video someone took of some of his work.

Actress Emmanuelle Uzan (we couldn't find a good picture of her in the movie) and the real Djuna Barnes.

Actress Emmanuelle Uzan (we couldn’t find a good picture of her in the movie) and the real Djuna Barnes.

Djuna Barnes

Djuna Barnes was an American poet, playwright, journalist, artist, and short-story writer.  Today, she is best known for her novelNightwood, but in the time period Midnight in Paris takes place in, she was more known as a journalist. In the early 20s, an assignment from an American magazine took her to Paris, where she lived for the next decade.  During this time she interviewed numerous artists and authors living in Paris, which led to a close friendship with James Joyce. During this time she also published a novel, a collection of poetry, and numerous short stories.  Gil dances with her briefly in one scene in the movie.

Adrien de Van and filmmaker Luis Buñuel.

Adrien de Van and filmmaker Luis Buñuel.

Luis Buñuel

Luis Buñuel was a Spanish filmmaker who worked in Spain, Mexico and France. He is thought to be a huge influence on the art of filmmaking, especially short film.  Critic Roger Ebert called Buñuel’s first film “the most famous short film ever made.”  It was a piece that he co-wrote and co-directed with Salvador Dali.  In the movie, when Gil meets Buñuel, he makes some suggestions about a future film about a dinner party that the director should make – eventually the filmmaker did make that movie.

The video below is the movie, Un Chien Andalou, that Bunuel and Dali made together.  It is probably the weirdest movie I’ve ever watched, and I understood almost none of it.  Enjoy.

More Famous Names

If you pay close attention, you’ll hear a few more famous names tossed out during the movie.  Jean Cocteau was a French writer and filmmaker, Archibald MacLeish was an American poet, Juan Belmonte was a Spanish bullfighter, Jack Turner was an abstract painter, H.M. Brock was a British painter, Amedeo Modigliani was an Italian painter, Coco Chanel was a French fashion designer, and William Faulkner was an American novelist.

Shakespeare and Co.

Shakespeare and Company is the name of an independent bookstores on Paris’ Left Bank, near the Notre Dame Cathedral.  It was owned by Sylvia Beach, an American living in Paris, and opened in 1919.  During the 1920s, it was a hangout for writers and artists like Ezra Pound, Hemingway, Joyce, Ford Madox Ford, Fitzgerald, Stein, and Man Ray.

Customers could buy or borrow books, and often young authors could live/sleep in the store in exchange for stocking the shelves and working on their own writing.  Beach supported writers, and she offered many books that were banned in the US and UK.  In fact, Joyce’s biggest book, Ulysses, was originally published by Beach, because it was banned everywhere else.  The store plays a big part in Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast.

The store closed in 1940, during the German occupation, and (at least this version of it) never re-opened.

In 1951 a former American soldier named George Whitman opened another English-language bookstore on Paris’s Left Bank.  The store was named Le Mistral.  Much like Shakespeare and Company, the store became a hangout for American and British poets and writers living in Paris, writers like Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs.  When he opened, Whitman had intentionally modeled his shop after Beach’s and, in 1964, after Beach’s death, Whitman renamed his store “Shakespeare and Company” in tribute to the original (it’s okay, he had Beach’s blessing – they had become close friends).

Now run by Whitman’s daughter, Sylvia Beach Whitman (yes, she was named after the original owner), the bookstore is still there today. Sylvia Whitman runs the store the same way as her father – it still has sleeping facilities, with thirteen beds for young writers, and there are regular poetry readings, writer’s meetings, and other activities.  The bookstore does play a small roll in Midnight in Paris, and it is one of Mr. Curtis’ favorite spots in the city.

More Famous Places

One of the first places Gil visits in the 1920s (where he saw Josephine Baker dancing), was Chez Bricktop’s, owned by an America woman named Ada “Bricktop” Smith from 1924-1961.  Bricktop’s was an iconic club and one of the most important cultural hotspots of the 20th century.  Sadly, Chez Bricktop is long gone.

The scene where Gil first meets Hemingway was set at  Crémerie-Restaurant Polidor, a historic restaurant in the Latin Quarter of Paris.  The restaurant’s interior looks almost the same as it did 100 years ago, and the menu has been virtually unchanged for longer than that.  Back in the ’20s, Hemingway really did hang out there, as did Joyce, and later Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac.  Polidor is still there, and perhaps you could have lunch or coffee where Hemingway and Fitzgerald debated and argued about their work and about Zelda.

The Church of St Etienne du Mont is a real Parisian church where Gil was picked up each night at midnight by the magical limo.  The church can be visited during our free time, and maybe Mr. Curtis will take a select group of literature enthusiasts to be there for the chime of midnight just in case something magical happens.

Gil, Inez, and their friends tour the Musee Rodin early in the movie.  Interestingly enough, the tour guide in those scenes was played by Carla Bruni, an Italian/French actress who just happened to be the French First Lady at the time of the filming.  She married French president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008.  The museum, however, was originally the Hotel Biron, where Rodin lived and worked.  When he died, he left his work to the French people, on the condition that it be displayed at the Hotel Biron.  You can visit the Rodin Museum during free time, but there is an admission charge.  The gardens Gil walked through are accessible also – admission to Rodin’s gardens is just €1.

Gertrude Stein’s scenes take place at the writer’s real home, 27 rue de Fleurus. It’s here that Gil also meetsPicasso and Adriana.  Unfortunately, the house isn’t open to tours, but there is a plaque above the door that commemorates the Stein’s time in Paris.

Free time can be spent at the Musee de l’Orangerie, where Gil sees several of Monet’s water lily paintings. The museum is also home to works by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Renoir, and Picasso.


Late in the movie, Gil is able to travel further back in time to a time known as La Belle Epoque (The Beautiful Era). There, he meets three more artists from Paris’ past – this time the 1890s.  

Near the end of the movie, Gil meets Vincent Menjou Cortes as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, François Rostain as Edgar Degas, and Olivier Rabourdin as Paul Gauguin.

Near the end of the movie, Gil meets Vincent Menjou Cortes as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, François Rostain as Edgar Degas, and
Olivier Rabourdin as Paul Gauguin.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a French painter who was drawn to the colorful life of Parisian theatre and music, including places like the famous Moulin Rouge.  He painted exciting and provocative pictures of the life of that time period.  He is among the most famous of the post-impressionist painters (along with Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Gauguin).

Paul Gauguin

Gauguin was a French artist who was not well recognized until after his death. Today we appreciate his experimental use of color and  style that were very unique to the time period.  His work heavily influenced later artists like Picasso and Matisse.

Edgar Degas

Degas was a French artist famous for his paintings, sculptures, and drawings. Many of his most famous works deal the subject of dance.  He is also thought to be one of the founders of the impressionist style, but he preferred the term realist.  His portraits of people are most famous for the realistic looks on their faces, indicating a psychological complexity.


I hope you all enjoy Midnight in Paris as much as I did the first time I saw it.  I hope it makes you dream about strolling down the quiet streets of Paris.  I hope it makes you want to travel back in time.  I hope it gets you excited about visiting Paris in just over a year.  It’s a fun movie that gives a unique insight into a different time in Paris, and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be quietly hoping that somehow our plane takes us to 1920s Paris by mistake.

Each of the movies we select are chosen for that very reason, to give you different perspectives on the people, history, and culture of the places we’re visiting.  This movie is definitely well worth a few hours of your time before we fly to Europe.

So, sit back, relax, grab some macarons and a croque monsieur, and watch our Movie of the Month,Midnight in Paris, along with the other videos we’ve posted today.  You can find Midnight in Paris free at some online streaming sites, or check the local libraries or video stores if you prefer.  If it costs money to rent, we suggest you team up and watch it with a few other students in the group.

We ask that all of our France/Benelux travelers take the time to watch our Movies of the Month, then come back here to discuss the movie, the history, and the impact this story had on the people and places we’ll visit.  In your response, we’d like you to tell us first what you thought of the movie and why.  Second, tell us three specific things you learned from watching this movie (and reading this post) that you think will make your experience in Paris even better than it would have been.  The longer and more in depth our discussion gets, the better it is for all of us.  

Keep in mind, also, that several books written by the Lost Generation authors are on your Around the World in 80 Books assignment, including Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and A Moveable Feast and Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night.  If there are different books, poems, plays, or short story collections you heard about while reading this post or watching the videos that you’d like to read, please go for it.  Those will count towards your Around the World in 80 books assignment too. 

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RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 53 One politician who knows science responds to Lisa Randall of Harvard!


On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:

…Please click on this URL

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto


Below you have picture of 1996 Chemistry Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Harry Kroto:


Lisa Randall

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Lisa Randall

Lisa Randall at TED
Born June 18, 1962 (age 53)
Queens, New York City, New York, United States
Residence Massachusetts, United States
Nationality American
Fields Physics
Institutions Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
University of California, Berkeley
Princeton University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Harvard University
Alma mater Stuyvesant High School
Harvard University
Doctoral advisor Howard Georgi
Doctoral students Csaba Csáki, Eric Sather, Witold Skiba, Shu-fang Su, Emanuel Katz, Matthew Schwartz, Shiyamala Thambyahpillai, Liam Fitzpatrick, David Simmons-Duffin, Brian Shuve
Known for Randall–Sundrum model
Warped Passages
Notable awards Klopsteg Memorial Award (2006)
Lilienfeld Prize (2007)
Andrew Gemant Award (2012)

Lisa Randall (born June 18, 1962) is an American theoretical physicist and leading expert on particle physics and cosmology. She is the Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science on the physics faculty of Harvard University.[1] Her research includes elementary particles and fundamental forces and she has developed and studied a wide variety of models, the most recent involving extra dimensions of space. She has advanced the understanding and testing of the Standard Model, supersymmetry, possible solutions to the hierarchy problem concerning the relative weakness of gravity, cosmology of extra dimensions, baryogenesis, cosmological inflation, and dark matter.[2] Her best-known contribution is theRandall–Sundrum model, first published in 1999 with Raman Sundrum.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Randall was born in Queens in New York City. She is an alumna of Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics and graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1980,[4]where she was a classmate of fellow physicist and science popularizer Brian Greene.[4][5] She won first place in the 1980 Westinghouse Science Talent Search at the age of 18. Randall earned at Harvard both an A.B. in 1983, and in 1987 a Ph.D. in particle physics under the direction of Howard Georgi.[1]


Randall researches particle physics and cosmology at Harvard, where she is a professor of theoretical physics. Her research concerns elementary particles and fundamental forces, and has involved the study of a wide variety of models, the most recent involving extra dimensions of space. She has also worked on supersymmetry, Standard Model observables, cosmological inflation, baryogenesis, grand unified theories, and general relativity. Randall’s books Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions and Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World have both been on New York Times 100 notable books lists.[1]

After her graduate work at Harvard, Randall held professorships at MIT and Princeton University before returning to Harvard in 2001.[6] Professor Randall was the first tenured woman in the Princeton physics department and the first tenured female theoretical physicist at Harvard. (However, this should not be misconstrued to believe that she was the first tenured woman in the Harvard physics department. Melissa Franklin was the first to earn that accolade.)[7] She has also written two popular science books and the libretto of anopera.[8] She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2004) and the National Academy of Sciences (2008),[2] a fellow of the American Physical Society, and is a past winner of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship, a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award in 1992, and a DOE Outstanding Junior Investigator Award. In 2003, she received the Premio Caterina Tomassoni e Felice Pietro Chisesi Award, from the Sapienza University of Rome. In autumn 2004, she was the most cited theoretical physicist of the previous five years. In 2006, she received the Klopsted Award from the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). Professor Randall was featured in Seed magazine’s “2005 Year in Science Icons ” and in Newsweeks “Who’s Next in 2006” as “one of the most promising theoretical physicists of her generation.” She has helped organize numerous conferences and has been on the editorial board of several major theoretical physics journals.[1][6]

Randall at TED 2006

Personal life[edit]

Randall’s sister, Dana Randall, is a professor of computer science at Georgia Tech.[9]

In 2007, Randall was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People (Time 100) under the section for “Scientists & Thinkers”. Randall was given this honor for her work regarding the evidence of a higher dimension.[10]

Randall has written the libretto for an opera, Hypermusic Prologue: A Projective Opera in Seven Planes, in collaboration with the composer Hèctor Parra.[11]

In  the third video below in the 120th clip in this series are her words and  my response is below them. 

50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1)

Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2)

A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 3)



Today’s politicians seem more comfortable invoking God and religion than they do presenting facts or numbers. Now that is odd. It’s not like they can’t talk about the former but it’s like they have to talk about the former where as talking about science is going to harm you and I actually think we are going to have to get past that if we are going to make progress in some of the big issues we have today.


Let me respond by saying that I can’t speak for all politicians but I can say that I can speak for myself since I am politician since I was elected in November of 2014 as Justice of the Peace in the 4th largest county in Arkansas. In my case I have corresponded on scientific issues with dozens of scientists for over 20 years now. You are employed by Harvard so I am sure you are familiar with some of the scientists were kind enough to take time out of their busy schedule and write me back. Those names include  Ernest Mayr (1904-2005), Gerald Holton (1922-), Edward O. Wilson(1929-), and Nobel Prize winners George Wald (1906-1997), and Nicolaas Bloembergen (1920-). Some other scientists I have corresponded are not from Harvard but none the less are very note worthy such as   Carl Sagan (1934-1996),  Robert Shapiro (1935-2011),   Brian Charlesworth (1945-),  Francisco J. Ayala (1934-) Elliott Sober (1948-), Kevin Padian (1951-), Matt Cartmill (1943-) , Milton Fingerman (1928-), John J. Shea (1969-), , Michael A. Crawford (1938-),   Harry Kroto (1939-),   Lewis Wolpert (1929),  Martin Rees (1942-), Alan Macfarlane (1941-),  Roald Hoffmann (1937-), Herbert Kroemer (1928-), and  Thomas H. Jukes (1906-1999). As you will notice several of these men have won Nobel Prizes.

Reading Dr. Randall’s quote  inspired me to write her a letter (which was mailed on September 21, 2015) about a scientist that my favorite philosopher Francis Schaeffer loved to quote. Michael Polanyi took on Harvard’s James D. Watson  and the British scientist Francis Crick concerning their reduction-ism and he knocked it out of the park. By the way Polanyi’s son John won the 1986 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Below is my letter to Dr. Randall and I am hoping she gets some time to respond to me (a politician) about this scientific matter.


September 21, 2015

Dr. Lisa Randall, Professor of Science, Harvard University,

Dear Dr. Randall,

Like you the first time I got to vote in the Presidential Election was in 1980 and there were very interesting candidates including a born and raised New Yorker like you named Barry Commoner. The thing I remember most about Barry was that he had profanity in his radio advertisements. Recently I had the opportunity to come across a very interesting article by Michael Polanyi, LIFE TRANSCENDING PHYSICS AND CHEMISTRY, in the magazine CHEMICAL AND ENGINEERING NEWS, August 21, 1967, and it talks a lot about Barry Commoner.  I also got hold of a 1968 talk by Francis Schaeffer based on this article. Polanyi’s son John actually won the 1986 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. This article by Michael Polanyi concerns Francis Crick and James Watson and their discovery of DNA in 1953. Polanyi noted:

Mechanisms, whether man-made or morphological, are boundary conditions harnessing the laws of in
animate nature, being themselves irreducible to those laws. The pattern of organic bases in DNA which functions as a genetic code is a boundary condition irreducible to physics and chemistry. Further controlling principles of life may be represented as a hierarchy of boundary conditions extending, in the case of man, to consciousness and responsibility.

I would like to send you a CD copy of this talk because I thought you may find it very interesting. It includes references to not only James D. Watson, and Francis Crick but also  Maurice Wilkins, Erwin Schrodinger, J.S. Haldane (his son was the famous J.B.S. Haldane), Peter Medawar, and Barry Commoner. I WONDER IF YOU EVER HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO RUN ACROSS THESE MEN OR ANY OF THEIR FORMER STUDENTS?

Below is a portion of the transcript from the CD and Michael Polanyi’s words are in italics while Francis Schaeffer’s words are not:

Francis Schaeffer in the fall of 1968 examined an article by Michael Polanyi on Francis Crick and James D. Watson and their views on the ramifications of their DNA discovery.

It deals with Michael Polanyi’s evaluation of Francis Crick and James D. Watson’s concepts of DNA. I will read from NEWSWEEK Feb 26, 1968, a summary, a review of James D. Watson’s book THE DOUBLE HELIX, 226 pages, $5.95, which Watson who was one of the men working with Crick has written this book and this is the review of it. The letters DNA…is the genetic material, the stuff of life that predetermines nearly everything about the nature of individual cells and entire organisms. To know how DNA works is to understand what life is.

I am not going to explain this but I am going to assume that you understand.

In 1953 James D. Watson with two British scientists discovered the three dimensional structure of DNA and the world took a giant step forward towards such knowledge. In the decade that followed, Watson, Crick and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962 and molecular biology came of age and surpassed even physics as the most glamorous of the sciences. Whether or not the discovery of DNA’s double helical strands is as important a breakthrough as Newton’s discovery of gravity…”

Here you have the story of DNA with Watson and Crick being the principle ones to work it out.  I know men who have worked with Crick and the men who have worked with Crick say he has a simple propitiation. He is completely atheistic and as such his work is all committed to an end. He wants to reduce a simple form of life to a mechanical, deterministic situation within the philosophic concept that if this can be true of a small morsel of life then it would be true of all of life. Then life could be explained by just physics and chemistry and the mechanical.

This is an article by Michael Polanyi, LIFE TRANSCENDING PHYSICS AND CHEMISTRY, in the magazine CHEMICAL AND ENGINEERING NEWS, August 21, 1967, just a year ago.

For most people Michael Polanyi is an unknown name, which Francis Crick is known by almost everybody. Polanyi is almost unknown except among scholars and I have never known a scholar in any of these related areas that didn’t know Polanyi. Polanyi is a tremendous force in the current intellectual world.

This article is the climax of 15 years of Polanyi’s work. 

This article by Polanyi is somewhat technical and I’m sorry for anyone who gets lost. Having said that however, it is worthwhile struggling through. I will only read parts of the article but I will be fair to the article and what I have left out is largely the most technical parts that would add nothing except depth.

The discovery by James D. Watson and Francis Crick of the genetic function of DNA combined with the evidence these scientists provided for the self-duplication of DNA, is widely held to prove that living beings can be interpreted at least in principles, by the laws of physic and chemistry.

This is the principle of Crick and Watson that Polanyi will argue against. Now if their position is right then all human life is reduced to chemicals and physics and you would come to the final deterministic argument.

(On page 55 of the article) Barry Commoner has queried this view by citing evidence to show that the self-duplication of DNA is not proven (“Science and Survival”). 

If that would hold then it would destroy the position of Crick, Watson and I would add Peter Medawar. Especially for the British the name Medawar is very important in this discussion.

(On page 55 of the article) But the latter point though important, is not in fact decisive. For even if we granted the self-duplication of DNA, this would not show that living beings can be represented in terms of physics and chemistry. It would, for example, not offer a possible physical-chemical explanation of human consciousness. 

It becomes very interesting. What he is talking about here is the very thing that I constantly in my arguments would discuss under the term “the mannishness of man.” And he says it doesn’t explain this and the rest of his article goes on and explains his proposition.

For my part, I differ–from Commoner and from most biologists, by holding that no mechanism–be it a machine or a machine like feature of an organism–can be represented in terms of physics and chemistry. 

Now he says Commoner would accept that a machine could be explained in terms of chemical and physical laws, but Commoner would not accept that human consciousness could be. But Polanyi says that I differ because you can’t explain the machine either. This is the heart of his argument and I think it is titanic and when I first ran into Polanyi’s argument I must say I was overwhelmed because I had never heard anyone on the dilemma of explaining the machine on the basis of chemical and physical properties and laws. So constantly you know in my lectures that I say that modern science back to Galileo and these other early scientists that they thought of two parts of the universe, the machine portion which follows on the basis of cause and effect and then man, and those I would put under the term of modern scientists, the originators of modern science in contrast to modern, modern science, that they always had two parts of the universe, the machine,  it functions on the basis of cause and effect and then man. I point out in my lectures that modern modern science has included everything in the machine. So there is no place for God and no place for man. God disappears and man is included in the machine. So the distinction between modern science, Copernicus, Newton and those before them and modern modern science definition is that modern science had a place for God and man because they were not included in the machine, but modern modern science by also putting the social sciences and psychology on the basis of mechanism this being the case, these are now included in the machine. I would say that you might explain the machines in certain ways but what you could not explain was man, but Polanyi is carrying the argument a step more profoundly and saying you can’t explain the machine either on the basis on mere chemistry and physics. I must say I think Polanyi wins and Crick, Watson and Medawar are stymied by Polanyi’s argument. As far as I know and I have listened and listened and all the arguments I have ever heard about Polanyi, no one has ever been able to disprove his proposition. It is one of the great  propositions of the second half of the 20th century.

My account of the situation will seem to oscillate in several directions, and I shall set out, therefore, its stages in order. 

I shall show that:

  1. Commoner’s criteria of irreducibility to physics and chemistry are incomplete; they are necessary but not sufficient conditions of it. 
  2. Machines are irreducible to physics and chemistry. 
  3. By virtue of the principle of boundary control, mechanistic structures of living beings appear to be likewise irreducible. 

You have to understand his terminology and “boundary control” means a place where you enter a qualitative new condition. Please listen or you wouldn’t understand the rest of the article… Remember what that means. He has said that machines can not be reduced to physics and chemistry and now he says by the virtue of the principle of boundary control mechanistic structures of living beings, the mechanistic part of living beings including man likewise can not be reduced to physics and chemistry. Polanyi is going to say the argument is not only good for the consciousness of man (or what I call the “mannishness of man”), but also for the biological component parts or machine parts of the organism.

We would say that man has two parts, he is partially a machine and something more than a machine, the spirit or the mannishness of man…Of course, you must understand that the heart is a pump, and when this concept was first put forth it shocked people. People didn’t want to think of the heart as a pump…So when Harvey first put forth the concept of the heart as a pump he really shook the world...Polanyi is not a Christian and I don’t think he is consistent at the end of his argument. He doesn’t draw what I think is the only possible conclusion. Nevertheless, what Polanyi is saying is what if the heart is a pump, are we really reduced to chemical laws and physics. So any of you who have had any discussion on this realizes that this touches on a tremendous factor and it is usually accepted today without debate and it is a part of the implicit faith of modern man and that is the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system and that man is reducible to some form of determinism and certainly the physical parts of man can be reducible to physics and chemistry and Crick, Watson, and Medawar have pushed this to it’s tremendous conclusion in the last few years. It is part of this intellectual discussion and incidentally the death of man.

4. The structure of DNA, which according to Watson and Crick controls heredity, is not explicable by physics and chemistry. 

5. Assuming that morphological differentiation reflects the information content of DNA, we can prove that the morphology of living beings forms a boundary condition which, as such, is not explicable by physics and chemistry (the suggestion arrived at in the third item). 


Thank you for your time. I know how busy you are and I want to thank you for taking the time to read this letter.


Everette Hatcher,

P.O. Box 23416, Little Rock, AR 72221, United States, cell ph 501-920-5733,


If you want to hear a politician like me talk about facts then let me leave you two.

1. Evolution can’t explain 4 things that we can have to know

In the video below Adrian Rogers notes four facts about the theory of Evolution:

1. Four Bridges that the Evolutionist Cannot Cross

a. The Origin of Life
The first bridge the evolutionists cannot logically cross is the origin of life—the origin of life. Now, whence came life?

(George Wald  is pictured above and I had the opportunity to correspond with him)

Let me tell you something: Dr. George Wald–Professor Emeritus of Biology at Harvard University—he won the Nobel Prize in Biology in 1971—writing in Scientific American on the origin of life, has said this—and I want you to listen carefully: “There are only two possibilities as to how life arose: One is spontaneous generation arising to evolution. The other is a supernatural creative act of God. There is no third possibility.” And, we would all say amen. Either God did it, or it just happened accidentally. All right. But now, let’s go on. So far, he’s doing good. He said there’s no third possibility. “Spontaneous generation, that life arose from nonliving matter, was scientifically disproved 120 years ago”—that was 120 years from when he made this statement—“by Louis Pasteur and others. That leaves us with only one possible conclusion: that life arose as a supernatural creative act of God.”So far, so good. But now, tune your ears, and don’t miss this. I want you to hear what this Nobel Prize winning scientist, Professor Emeritus of Biology at Harvard, said. Now remember, he said there are only two possibilities: Either there’s a creative act of God, or it is spontaneous generation that arises or moves to evolution. He said—and I’m continuing to quote: “I will not accept that…”—what that is he referring to? That it is a supernatural creative act of God—“I will not accept that philosophically, because I do not want to believe in God. Therefore, I choose to believe what I know is scientifically impossible: spontaneous generation arising to evolution.”

b. The Fixity of the Species
The second bridge the evolutionist cannot cross is the steadfastness, the fixity, of the species—that is, “the basic categories of life.”  We don’t have any evolutionary fossilized remains, missing links.

c. The Second Law of Thermodynamics
The third bridge that the evolutionist cannot logically cross is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Now, what is the Second Law of Thermodynamics? This law says that energy is never destroyed. Everything tends to wear out, to run down, to disintegrate, and, ultimately, to die, but energy just moves to some other form. All processes, by definition, involve change, but the change—now, listen very carefully—is not in the upward direction of complexity, as the evolutionist declares. But, change left to itself is always in disintegration, not in integration. Now, that’s the Second Law of Thermodynamics. It’s called…—to itself, everything collapses, deteriorates, grows old, and dies, sooner or later—it’s called entropy.

d. The Non-Physical Properties Found in Creation
Now, here’s the fourth bridge that the evolutionists cannot logically cross, and that is the non-physical properties found in creation. Now, what do I mean by the non-physical properties found in creation? Music, The love of music, art, beauty, a hunger for God, worship. What is there in the survival of the fittest—what is there in the evolutionary process—that would produce these things? How can they be accounted for under the survival of the fittest? Where do these things come from? Genesis 1, verse 26: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26). You see, we have these inner things—this love for beauty, for art, for truth, for eternity. That didn’t come from some primordial ooze; that came from the God who created us.

Adrian Rogers on Darwinism

2. There is evidence that indicates the Bible is true.

Scientists insist on evidence and don’t want to be encouraged to believe anything on “blind faith.” Therefore, I have included some evidence below that seems to confirm the Biblical accounts. Check it out.

The Bible and Archaeology – Is the Bible from God? (Kyle Butt 42 min)

Below is a piece of that evidence given by Francis Schaeffer concerning the accuracy of the Bible.


We should take one last step back into the history of the Old Testament. In the previous note we looked first at the Dead Sea Scrolls, dating to around 100 B.C. Then we went back to the period of the Late Monarchy and looked first at the siege of Hezekiah in Jerusalem by Sennacherib in 701 B.C. and also at the last years of Judah down to about 600 B.C. Then we went further back to about 850 B.C., to Ahab and Jezebel, the ivory house, the Black Obelisk, the Moabite Stone and so on–then back again to about 950 B.C., to the time of Solomon and his son Rehoboam and the campaign by Shishak, the Egyptian pharaoh.

This should have built up in our minds a vivid impression of the historic reliability of the biblical text, including even the seemingly obscure details such as the ration tablets in Babylon. We saw, in other words, not only that the Bible gives us a marvelous world view that ties in with the nature of reality and answers the basic problems which philosophers have asked down through the centuries, but also that the Bible is completely reliable, EVEN ON THE HISTORICAL LEVEL.

The previous notes looked back to the time of Moses and Joshua, the escape from Egypt, and the settlement in Canaan. Now we will go back further–back as far as Genesis 12, near the beginning of the Bible.

Do we find that the narrative fades away to a never-never land of myths and legends? By no means. For we have to remind ourselves that although Genesis 12 deals with events a long time ago from our moment of history (about 2000 B.C. or a bit later), the civilized world was already not just old but ancient when Abram/Abraham left “Ur of the Chaldeans” (see Genesis 11:31).

Ur itself was excavated some fifty years ago. In the British Museum, for example, one can see the magnificent contents of a royal burial chamber from Ur. This includes a gold headdress still in position about the head of a queen who died in Ur about 2500 B.C. It has also been possible to reconstruct from archaeological remains what the streets and buildings must have been like at the time.

Like Ur, the rest of the world of the patriarchs (that is, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) was firm reality. Such places as Haran, where Abraham went first, have been discovered. So has Shechem from this time, with its Canaanite stone walls, which are still standing, and its temple.

Genesis 12:5-9New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the [a]persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they [b]set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the[c]oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your [d]descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him. Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord andcalled upon the name of the Lord. Abram journeyed on, continuing toward the[e]Negev.

Haran and Shechem may be unfamiliar names to us but the Negrev (or Negeb) is a name we have all read frequently in the news accounts of our own day. 

Negev Nuclear Research Center – Israel

The Negev – Israel’s Desert

This article was first published in the Spring 2005 issue of Bible and Spade.
“If the full meaning of a passage [in the Bible] is to be grasped, the context of the passage needs to be appropriately developed” (Greenwold 2004: 72). In his pithy study of Luke’s Gospel account of Elizabeth and Zachariah, Greenwold gives an example of what he means: “All too often in our church lifetime, we end up being given many theological and doctrinal factual ornaments, but seldom are we shown the tree upon which to hang them. It’s as if we have been handed dozens of pieces to a puzzle, but have never seen what the finished picture on the top of the puzzle box looks like” (2004: 73). I think that Greenwold has it right.
Jesus and the woman at Jacob’s well in John 4 is an excellent case in point. The story takes place near the Old Testament city of Shechem. Shechem is mentioned 60 times in the Old Testament. The city had been abandoned by New Testament times, but Stephen reiterates its importance in his speech in Acts 7:16. A small village, Sychar, was near the ruins of Shechem in New Testament times and is mentioned in the John 4 account (Jn 4:5). Unfortunately, most Bible studies of events at or near Shechem, and commentaries on the Book of John, omit Shechem’s pivotal role in Bible history and how it fit into God’s salvation plan.
The narrow pass where ancient Shechem is located at the modern city of Nablus, view west. Mt. Gerizim is on the left and Mt. Ebal on the right. Dr. James C. Martin.
Archaeological investigations have corroborated much of what the Bible has to say about Shechem’s physical and cultural aspects. Archaeology has confirmed Shechem’s location, its history, and many Biblical details. In this article I will integrate what archaeology has illuminated about this important place and its geographical importance with a macro look at Shechem’s place in revealing God’s promise and plan to restore believers to Him.1
Map of Shechem area showing the location of Tell Balata (ancient Shechem), Joseph’s tomb and Jacob’s Well. ASOR, 2002.
Location and Exploration
About 30 mi (49 km) north of Jerusalem is a low, 15-acre mound, known as Tell Balata. This nondescript ruin covers what was ancient Shechem. The tell rests in a long, narrow, east-west valley with the two highest mountains in central Palestine towering over it, Mt. Ebal on the north and Mt. Gerizim on the south. The Hebrew word shekemmeans “back” or “shoulder,” which probably refers to Shechem’s placement between the two mountains. Coming from the south, the major road from Beersheba, Hebron and Jerusalem splits here. One branch goes east, around Mt. Ebal, and provides access to the Jordan Valley and cities like Beth Shan. The western arm leads to the coastal plain and cities to the north such as Samaria and Dothan. Thus, ancient Shechem and its modern counterpart, Nablus, are in a very strategic location along the watershed road between Judah, the Jordan Valley, Transjordan, and the Galilee.2
In 1903, a group of German scholars under the direction of H. Tiersch examined Tell Balata and concluded it was ancient Shechem. Until that time there had been controversy over whether Tell Balata, or the modern city of Nablus nearby, was the location of ancient Shechem. Tiersch’s identification has never been seriously questioned.
E. Sellin led an Austro-German excavation team to Tell Balata in 1913 and 1914. His work was interrupted by World War I. Sellin began work again in 1926 and continued until 1936. Work was resumed in 1956 by an American team under the direction of G. E. Wright and B. W. Anderson. The latest season of excavations at Tell Balata was in 1973 under the direction of W. G. Dever (Campbell 1993: 1347; Seger 1997:21).
Aerial view of the ruins of Shechem. On the right is the Middle Bronze fortification wall and in the upper center the “Migdal,” or fortress, temple. Holy Land Satellite Atlas, 1999, p. 100.
Abram at Shechem
The first mention of Shechem in the Bible is Genesis 12:6, when Abram first entered Canaan. It is succinctly described: “Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem.” At that time, God promised Abram, “To your offspring I will give this land” (Gn 12:7). The next mention of Shechem is 11 chapters, and about 200 years, later, when the Bible records that Jacob, Abram’s grandson, “camped within sight of the city” (Gn 33:18).
Assuming a conservative dating for the Patriarchal events in the Bible,3 note that Abram camped in Canaan about 2090 BC and there is no mention of a city. However, when Jacob arrived 200 hundred years later, around 1890 BC, the Bible notes that he “camped within sight of the city [Shechem].” In the original Hebrew, the word translated in our English Bible as “city” meant a permanent, walled settlement (Hansen 2003:81, Wood 1999:23). Genesis 34:20 and 24 report that Shechem had a city gate; therefore it was fortified.
Can archaeology clarify if there was or was not a city? Yes. The absence of a “city” and walls at Tell Balata when Abram came through and the existence of a city in the time of Jacob is in complete agreement with what the Bible indicates is Shechem’s early history.
Excavations have revealed that the earliest urbanization at Tell Balata was in MB I (Levels XXII-XXI), about 1900–1750 BC. MB I was when Jacob lived by the city of Shechem. Prior to MB I, in the time of Abram’s visit, archaeology has demonstrated that there was a gap in settlement and an absence of fortification walls. Thus, there was no “city” for Abram to reference, as the Bible correctly infers (Campbell 1993: 1347).
Jacob and Joseph at Shechem
What was the city like when Jacob settled there? Archaeologists have revealed that Tell Balata in MB I had structures with mudbrick walls on stone foundations and they have found an abundance of artifacts typical of domestic living (Toombs 1992: 1179). The Bible records that during Jacob’s stay he purchased land near Shechem. This parcel would become the place where his son, Joseph, would later be entombed (Jos 24:32). The tumultuous Dinah affair also occurred during Jacob’s stay at Shechem. Its aftermath resulted in the murder of Shechem’s male population by two of Jacob’s sons (Gn 33–34). Subsequently, God told Jacob to move to Bethel (Gn 35:1) and then on to Hebron (Gn 35:7).
The next Biblical mention of Shechem is in connection with the story of 17-year-old Joseph, Jacob’s son, who was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers (Gn 37). In the account, Joseph’s brothers were grazing the family’s flocks near Shechem when Jacob sent Joseph to inquire of them. After looking for them at Shechem, he found them a short distance north at Dothan. There, the brothers conspired to sell Joseph into slavery, setting the stage for the subsequent accounts of Joseph’s rise to power, Jacob and his family moving to Egypt and, later, Israel’s oppression by Egyptian Pharaohs.
The earliest known extra-Biblical written record of Shechem comes from the Middle Bronze period. It is an inscription on a stele (an upright standing stone) of an Egyptian, Khu-Sebek, who was a nobleman in the court of Sesostris III (ca. 1880–1840 BC). It was found in 1901 by the renowned archaeologist J. Garstang at Abydos, Egypt. King Sesostris III became ruler shortly after Jacob was at Shechem, and he was probably the king when Jacob died in Egypt. Khu-Sebek’s stele describes how the king’s army campaigned in a foreign country named Sekmem (Shechem) and how “Sekmem fell” (Toombs 1992: 1179). W. Shea believes that the campaign on Khu-Sebek’s stele is none other than the Egyptians’ account of the military encounters experienced by the entourage accompanying Joseph when Jacob’s embalmed body was brought to Canaan for entombment at Machpelah (Gn 50:12–14) (Shea 1992: 38 ff.).
Khu-Sebek’s stele reveals that as early as the 19th century BC, Shechem was an important strategic location and a place worthy of mention in a notable Egyptian’s biography.
Stela of Khu-Sebek. He is shown seated, accompanied by members of his family, his nurse, and the superintendent of the cabinet. Discovered by British archaeologist John Garstang at Abydos, Egypt, in 1901, the stela is now on display in the museum of the University of Manchester, England. Mike Luddeni.
Joshua at Shechem
A little over 400 years later, God rescued the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and led them through the desert wilderness for 40 years. Near the end of this sojourn, their leader Moses said that once they entered the land God had promised them (at Shechem, see Gn 12:7!), they were to erect an altar on Mt. Ebal (Dt 27:4) and read portions of the Law while the people were assembled before Mounts Ebal and Gerizim (Dt 11:26–30; 27:12, 13).
As I noted above, the mountains of Ebal and Gerizim overlook the valley wherein lay Shechem. The mountains form a natural amphitheater in which the recitation of the Law could easily be heard. Despite the mountains’ heights (Ebal is 3,083 ft [940 m] and Gerizim is 2,890 ft [881 m]), there are many contemporary accounts of people speaking from the slopes of the mountains and being heard in the valley below. Even with the noise of the busy modern city of Nablus, I myself have been in the park at the top of Gerizim and clearly heard the voices of children playing in the Balata refugee camp at Gerizim’s base.
Joshua fulfilled Moses’ instructions and led the people directly to Gerizim and Ebal after defeating the stronghold at Ai (Jos 7–8). Assuming an “early Exodus” date (1446 BC), the Israelite entry into Canaan, after 40 years in the wilderness, was approximately 1406 BC, in the Late Bronze (LB) IB period.4 LB IB corresponds with Tell Balata’s Level XIV (Campbell 1993: 1347; Toombs 1992: 1178). During the 350 years of the previous MB period, the city had been fortified with earthen embankments and cyclopean wall fortifications. However, Shechem was destroyed around 1540 BC. The ferocity of the destruction resulted in debris covering the city up to a depth of 5.25 ft (1.6 m). It is surmised that the Egyptian armies of Ahmose I or Amenhotep I were the aggressors (Toombs 1992: 1182).
About 90 years after that catastrophe the city was rebuilt early in the LB I period, around 1450 BC. Level XIV corresponds to this date and is noted for the reconstruction of the city’s defensive walls, homes, and a well built, fortress-type, temple. This Level XIV occupation was the city at which Joshua and the Israelites arrived to fulfill Moses’ orders to read the Law before Ebal and Gerizim around 1406 BC.
The Book of Joshua makes an interesting observation about that visit:
All Israel, aliens and citizens alike…. were standing on both sides of the ark of the covenant of the LORD, facing those who carried it…. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the aliens who lived among them (Jos 8:33, 35).
It appears that the crowd who heard the words of the Law that day was composed of both Israelites and native Shechemites (aliens)! The Bible implies that both Shechemites and Israelites co-existed at Shechem. This unusual situation can be further confirmed by the fact that Shechem became one of only three Israelite Cities of Refuge on the west side of the Jordan River, as well as being a city of the Levitical priesthood (Jos 20:7; 21:21). All this occurred even though there is no record in the Bible of it being taken in battle.5
Years later, Joshua again gathered the Israelites at Shechem (Jos 24). He reminded them of God’s promises and how He had fulfilled those promises and delivered them from diversities. Joshua then challenged the people to say whom they would serve and they promised to serve God (Jos 24:14–20). The renewal ceremony between the Israelites and God recognized the promises God made to Abraham (Gn 12:7; 17:7, 8), Jacob, and the people at Sinai through Moses (Ex 24:8).
The next event at Shechem in the Bible was the fulfillment of another promise: the burial of the Patriarch Joseph. Just before his death in Egypt, Joseph asked his brothers to bring his body back to the land “promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” when God delivered them from Egypt (Gn 50:24–25).
And Joseph’s bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the tract of land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. This became the inheritance of Joseph’s descendants (Jos 24:32).
Today, there is a place near Tell Balata venerated by the Jewish and Samaritan faiths as the traditional location of Joseph’s tomb. The shrine marking the tomb, and an associated Jewish school, were reduced to rubble in October 2000 in the wake of the most recent hostilities between the Palestinian Arabs and the State of Israel. Conflicting views have abounded as to whether this was, in fact, Joseph’s final resting place. Unfortunately, no archaeological excavations are known to have taken place at this site that could verify that this was the true location of the tomb of Joseph. Several ancient texts mention the site, but the exact location of Joseph’s tomb is still in question.
The discovery of a LB Egyptian library at Amarna has provided additional insights on the LB period. Letters in the library reveal Egypt’s relationship with Canaan’s rulers in the mid-14th century BC. Some of the letters disclose that the kings of Shechem were independent of Egypt. Further, Shechem’s rulers were criticized by other Canaanite rulers for cooperating with an invading group of desert people called the Habiru. Many conservative evangelical scholars (e.g., Wood 1997; 2003: 269–71) believe the Habiru were the Israelites of the early Judges period.
Letter from Labayu, king of Shechem, to the king of Egypt, probably Amenhotep III. It is defiant in tone, suggesting Labayu had a measure of independence from Egypt (Hess 1993). The letter, numbered El Amarna 252, is written in Akkadian cuneiform, albeit with Canaanite grammar and syntax, and is on display in the British Museum. Mike Luddeni.
Abimelech at Shechem
Later in Bible history, Abimelech, the son of Gideon’s Shechemite concubine (Jgs 8:31), colluded with some Shechemites to kill 70 of Abimelech’s brothers (Jgs 8:30–31; 9). However, Abimelech’s youngest brother Jotham survived (Jgs 9:5). Jotham climbed to the top of Mt. Gerizim and shouted to the Shechemites below. He foretold the destruction of the men of Shechem by fire (Jgs 9:7–21). Later in the same chapter we read that the people of Shechem rose against Abimelech’s leadership. In response, Abimelech fought against the city and razed it. During the attack the leaders of Shechem tried to save themselves in “the stronghold of the temple of El-berith” (Jgs 9:46). The story continues:
He [Abimelech] took an ax and cut off some branches, which he lifted to his shoulders. He ordered the men with him, “Quick! Do what you have seen me do!” So all the men cut branches and followed Abimelech. They piled them against the stronghold and set it on fire over the people inside. So all the people in the tower of Shechem, about a thousand men and women, also died (Jgs 9:48–49).
Archaeologists (e.g., E. Campbell, B. Mazar, G. E. Wright and L. Stager) refer to the “tower of Shechem” as “the Tower (migdal) Temple or Fortress-Temple” of Shechem (Campbell 1993: 1348, Stager 2003: 26 and 68 note 1). Stager recently reexamined the work of Wright who, in 1926, excavated a large building that has been reported to be this Fortress-Temple (Stager 2003). Stager’s conclusions are that this Temple, “Temple 1, ” was, in fact, the migdal referred to in Judges 9. It is the largest such Canaanite structure found in Israel and was 70 ft (21 m) wide, 86 ft (26 m) long with stone foundation walls 17 ft (5.1 m) thick. The foundation supported a multistory mudbrick and timber temple with an entrance flanked by two large towers. Stager hypothesized that the courtyard of this temple could have been where Joshua “took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the LORD” (Jos 24:26).
Stager (2003: 68) places the destruction of the Fortress-Temple around 1100 BC. So does Seger (1997: 22), who correlates the destruction debris found at Level XI as being from the Iron IA period. Campbell (1993: 1347) states that there was a “significant” destruction “around 1100 BCE” and guardedly concludes, “connecting Level XI with the story underlying Judges 9 is plausible” (1993: 1352).
Dating Shechem’s destruction to 1100 BC helps confirm the Biblical date of 1406 BC as the beginning of the Conquest in Canaan. To do this, it is necessary to know that immediately after we read in the Bible of Abimelech’s destruction of Shechem, Jephthah, the ninth Judge, appears (Jgs 11, 12). Jephthah was hired by Israelites who lived in Gilead, east of the Jordan River, to confront the Ammonites who had made war on them for 18 years. Jephthah first attempted diplomacy with the Ammonite king. He reminded the Ammonite king that the Israelites had been in the land east of the Jordan River for “300 years” (Jgs 11:21–26). Jephthah, of course, was referring to the time when Moses led the Israelites through that region and defeated numerous kings (Nm 21:21–31).
Thus, if Abimelech destroyed Shechem ca. 1125–1100 BC (Jgs 9), and Abimelech was a contemporary of Jephthah, the Conquest would have occurred about 300 years earlier, in ca. 1400 BC (1100 BC + 300 years = 1400 BC).
Shechem in the Time of the Divided Monarchy
The Bible sheds little light on Shechem’s role during the reigns of Saul, David or Solomon. Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, was next in line for the throne. All the Israelites assembled at Shechem to anoint Rehoboam king. Rehoboam, however, acted foolishly by chiding the northern tribes and telling them he would tax them heavily. In defense, the northern tribes retaliated by separating themselves from Rehoboam and the southern kingdom. The northern tribes made Jeroboam I king of their region. The country, formerly unified under David and Solomon, became divided. The northern region and tribes, led by Jeroboam I, was known as Israel. The southern area and tribes, first led by Rehoboam, is referred to as Judah in the Bible.
Levels X and IX at Tell Balata represent the Jeroboam I period and are noted for carefully built houses of selected stones. The discovery of stone foundations for stairs suggests two-story, four-room houses, typical homes of that period (Dever 1994: 80–81). Campbell concludes that Level IX (920–810 BC) has “tangible evidence of Jeroboam I’s rebuilding (1 Kg 12:25) and a return to city status” (1993: 1352–53).
The Assyrian invasion of Israel in 724 BC (2 Kgs 17:5–6) brought another destruction to Shechem. The evidence is in Level VII. Toombs noted that in Level VII the city was “reduced to a heap of ruins, completely covered by debris of fallen brickwork, burned beams and tumbled building stones,” typical examples of Assyrian thoroughness (1992: 1185). In addition to the destruction, the Assyrians placed exiled peoples from other nations into the region around Shechem, a common Assyrian practice (2 Kgs 17:23–24).
These new peoples added Yahweh to their own beliefs (2 Kgs 17:25–30). The new religion mimicked Judaism in many respects and Mt. Gerizim was made the center of its worship. New Testament practitioners of the cult are called “Samaritans,” which also referred to the people who lived in the vicinity (Mt 10:5; Lk 9:52, 10:53; 17:16; Jn 4:7, 9, 22, 39, 40; 8:48; Acts 8:25). A remnant of the ancient Samaritans still lives on Mt. Gerizim and they practice sacrifices there just as they did 2,700 years ago.7
Shechem in the Intertestamental Period
Between the Old and New Testaments, Shechem had a modest recovery and there is an abundance of evidence that excellent buildings were constructed in this, the Hellenistic, period (ca. 330–107 BC). It was during this time that the Samaritans built a large temple and sacrificial platform on Mt. Gerizim, the remains of which were still visible in Jesus’ day (Jn 4:20).
As fighting between the Ptolemies and Seleucids swirled around the country in the intertestamental period, physical decline again took place at Shechem. This decline culminated when the Jewish leader, John Hyrcanus, took advantage of the temporary absence of outside armies and destroyed the Samaritan temple on Mt. Gerizim (ca. 126 BC). He leveled the city in 107 BC. Shechem never recovered from this destruction and lay in ruins until identified by Tierschin 1901.
Shechem in the New Testament Period
Samaritans continued to live in the area during the following years, the Roman period. This is confirmed by the discovery of human burials from the period on the lower slopes of Mt. Ebal (Magen 1993: 1358–59). It is known that Samaritans also made several attempts to renew their cult worship on Mt. Gerizim. The Romans suppressed their efforts and in AD 72 constructed a new city, Flavia-Neapolis, about 1 mi (1.6 km) west of Tell Balata (Magen 2001: 40). This new city is now Nablus, a modern Arab city of about 120,000 people8 whose name is probably a corruption of Roman city, Neapolis.
About 500 yd (460 m) southeast of Tell Balata is an ancient well, venerated to be a well that Jacob, the Patriarch, dug when he lived there. Such a well is not mentioned in the Old Testament. There is a small Arab village, Askar, just north of the well. Most scholars associate Askar with Sychar, the village in John 4 near “Jacob’s well” (Jn 4:6). The authenticity of the well is not only based on its physical identification in John 4, but also on “the fact that all traditions-—Jewish, Samaritan, Christian and Muslim-—support it” (Stefanovic 1992: 608). Several churches in Christian history have been built on the site of the well and today it is located under a recently constructed Greek Orthodox church. Access to the well is gained by going down steps from the apse of the new church.
Jacob’s well as it appeared in the 1870s. In the right background is Mt. Gerizim with the tomb of the Arab sheikh, where the ruins of the Samaritan temple were located in New Testament times, visible at the peak.Todd Bolen.
Jacob’s well, at the base of Mt. Gerizim, is at the junction of the main road leading from Jerusalem in the south. Here, the road splits with the eastern branch going toward the Jordan Valley and the western branch leading to Nablus, and in NT times, Samaria and the Galilee. It is an excellent setting for one of the most important passages in the Bible-—the account of Jesus’ verbal Messianic announcement in the fourth chapter of John. In this passage Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, dialogues with her, and tells her He is the long-awaited Messiah.
Mt. Gerizim (left peak) as seen from Jacob’s well. When the Samaritan woman said to Jesus, “Our fathers worshipped on this mountain,” she was no doubt referring to the ruins of the Samaritan temple on top of Mt. Gerizim. The small structure on the peak marks the location of the ruins of the Samaritan temple that easily could have been seen from Jacob’s well in Jesus’ day. Bryant Wood.
Significance of Shechem in Understanding John 4
This article began by stating that context in reading the Bible was important to full understanding of what the original writers wanted the original hearers/listeners to know. In the case of Shechem, it is clear that the writer of John’s Gospel was appealing to the hearer/reader’s understanding of Shechem’s unique historical and theological context.
First, the author established that the event took place at Sychar (Jn 4:6). By making reference to Jacob he reminded his readers/hearers that this is where Jacob first settled when he returned to the Promised Land from Paddan Aram (Gn 33:18). At this spot Abram received God’s promise that “To your offspring I will give this land” (Gn 12:7). In addition to God’s promise given here to Abram, the writer wanted the hearer/reader to remember that many human agreements were made at Shechem in Bible history. Unfortunately, most were corrupted because of man’s sin. For example, Jacob made a promise to spare Hamor and the Shechemites after Dinah was sexually violated. Jacob’s use of circumcision to confirm the agreement with the Shechemites was the same symbol God had ordained as “the sign of the covenant between Me and you” (Gn 17:11). To seal a human agreement in this manner and have it subsequently abrogated as Jacob’s sons had done (Gn 34), could not have escaped the attention of the original hearers/reader.
Later, we read in the Bible that Jacob did not destroy family idols: rather he simply placed them under a tree near Shechem (Gn 35). This whole account is a testimony to the human condition and our willful tendency not to obey God. Jacob, who even had the privilege of a personal revelation from God, still could not totally eliminate idol worship; he played on the edge and placed the idols under a tree rather than destroying them.
The reader/hearer also should have been reminded that Shechem was near the place where Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and then concocted a lie to explain Joseph’s absence to their father Jacob (Gn 37)—another example of man’s deceit and deception.
All of these accounts are, in themselves, mini-stories that illustrate the human condition and how incapable we are of making a lasting promise to God. As a result, we are in need of rescue and restoration and only God, with His patience, could develop and execute a plan, seen throughout Bible history, for accomplishing a restoration that did not rely on man’s fallible nature.
Juxtaposed against the human failings, lies and deceits, the hearer/reader’s attention was brought to the fact that Shechem was where God reminded the people that He is faithful. Having given Abram the promise of the land, the Israelites were to remember that promise by going to Shechem, building an altar worshipping and re-reading God’s Law. This would refresh in the minds of the Israelites how God had led them out of bondage as He had promised and into a land He had promised. The rededication ceremony was accomplished and is described in Joshua 8. Following the conquest, Joshua again assembled the people at Shechem where he reviewed God’s promises and Israel’s obligations, eliciting from the people an agreement that they would “serve the Lord our God and obey Him” (Jos 24:24). This promise was another one that was repeatedly broken as revealed in the succeeding books of the Old Testament.
Earlier in Israel’s history Joseph, as he lay dying in Egypt, reminded the people that God would lead them to the land He had promised to Abraham, Isaac and his father Jacob. He asked that when they did return, they “carry my bones up from this place” (Gn 50:25). This was fulfilled in Joshua 24:32 when the body of Joseph was placed in a tomb in Shechem.
The Hebrew hearer/reader would also remember that Shechem became the center for the idolatrous worship practices that occurred following Israel’s capture by the Assyrians. Importing peoples from other lands and exporting Jewish believers, syncretism of pagan beliefs and Jewish practices resulted in a corrupted form of worship that became centered at Shechem and on Mt. Gerizim by people who were known as Samaritans. They chose to be worshippers of other gods despite their earlier promise in Joshua 24.

Ruins of a fifth century AD octagonal church on Mt. Gerizim, view north. The church, dedicated to Mary, was built on top of a temple built by the Samaritans in the late fifth century BC. John Hyrcanus destroyed the temple in the late second century BC. The small domed building at the northeast corner, the tomb of an Arab sheikh, is the structure visible from Jacob’s well in the valley below. IAA.
I believe the author of John wanted the reader and hearer to recognize and associate Shechem with God’s eternal unbroken promises, man’s corrupted state, the need for a Rescuer and how a Rescuer had been promised throughout history. In John 4 the Rescuer is revealed. The Samaritan woman makes known the promise: “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” And the Rescuer, Jesus, replied that the Messiah was at hand: “I Who speak to you am He” (Jn 4:26)!
The Samaritan woman’s response was to immediately run into the village, leaving her water jar behind, and tell everyone that the Rescuer was there. What glorious news! The Samaritans rushed to the well, welcomed Him and exclaimed that Jesus was the Rescuer, “the Savior of the world” (Jn 4:42).
It should challenge us to remember that shortly after Jesus’ declaration that He was Messiah, He would complete the promise and achieve the rescue through His death, burial and ascension. As He prepared His disciples for their duties, He told them that they would be His “witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The story of Shechem and the Samaritan region had come full circle—from the promises to the Patriarchs to fulfillment of salvation as heard by the woman at the well and declared to the disciples.
Now we have the contextual history of Shechem. It is apparent that the original hearer/reader of John’s Gospel fully understood how Shechem had been a focal point of God’s unbroken promises and man’s fallibility. Hopefully, for the reader of this essay, all pieces of the puzzle of Shechem can now be understood and assembled so one can see the finished picture. And what a wonderful picture it is!
1. The author wishes to express his appreciation to Dr. James C. Martin for permission to use the photographs credited to him in this article.
2. For a discussion of geographical criteria that make for strategic locations in ancient Israel, see Hansen 1991.
3. For these dates, see Davis 1975: 29.
4. For a brief discussion of how this date is derived, see Hansen 2003: 80.
5. See Wood 1997 for his explanation of this unusual situation.
6. For a more thorough discussion of the Amarna tablets and the identity of the Habiru, see Archer 1994: 288–95; Wood 1995 and 2003: 269–71.
7. For a description of the modern Samaritans and how they practice Passover, see Bolen 2001.
Archer, Gleason L.
1994 A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, new and revised ed. Chicago: Moody.
Bolen, Todd
2001 Samaritan Passover. Bible and Spade 14: 41–42.
Campbell, Edward F.
1993 Shechem. Pp. 1345–54 in The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land4, ed. Ephraim Stern. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Davis, John J.
1975 Paradise to Prison: Studies in Genesis. Grand Rapids MI: Baker.
Dever, William G.
1994 Monumental Architecture in Ancient Israel in the Period of the United Monarchy. Bible and Spade 7: 68–87.
Greenwold, Douglas
2004 Zechariah & Elizabeth: Persistent Faith in a Faithful God. Rockville MD: Bible-in-Context Ministries.
Hansen, David G.
1991 The Case of Meggido [sic]. Archaeology and Biblical Research 4: 84–93.
2003 Large Cities that Have Walls up to the Sky: Canaanite Fortifications in the Late Bronze I Period.Bible and Spade 16: 78–88.
Hess, Richard S.
1993 Smitten Ant Bites Back: Rhetorical Forms in the Amarna Correspondence from Shechem. Pp. 95–111 in Verses in Ancient Near Eastern Prose, eds. Johannes C. de Moor and Wilfred G.E. Watson, Alter Orient und Altes Testament 42. Kevelaer, Germany: Butzon & Bercker.
Magen, Itzhak
1993 Neapolis. Pp. 1354–59 in The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land4, ed. Ephraim Stern. New York: Simon & Schuster.
2001 The Sacred Precinct on Mount Gerizim. Bible and Spade 14:37–40.
Seger, Joe D.
1997 Shechem. Pp. 19–23 in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East 5, ed. Eric M. Myers. New York: Oxford University Press.
Shea, William H.
1992 The Burial of Jacob: A New Correlation Between Genesis 50 and an Egyptian Inscription.Archaeology and Biblical Research 5:33–44.
Stager, Lawrence E.
2003 The Shechem Temple where Abimelech Massacred a Thousand. Biblical Archaeological Review28.4:26–35, 68–69.
Stefanovic, Zdravko
1992 Jacob’s Well. Pp. 608–609 in The Anchor Bible Dictionary 3, ed. David N. Freedman. New York: Doubleday.
Toombs, Lawrence E.
1992 Shechem. Pp. 1174–86 in The Anchor Bible Dictionary 5, ed, David N. Freedman. New York: Doubleday.
Wood, Bryant G.
1995 Reexamining The Late Bronze Era: An Interview with Bryant Wood by Gordon Govier. Bible and Spade 8: 47–53.
1997 The Role of Shechem in the Conquest of Canaan. Pp 245–56 in To Understand the Scriptures: Essays in Honor of William H. Shea, ed. David Merling. Berrien Springs MI: Institute of Archaeology/Siegfried H. Horn Archaeological Museum.
1999 The Search for Joshua’s Ai: Excavations at Kh. el-Maqatir. Bible and Spade 12:21–30.

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The lecture formed part of the Reasonable Faith Tour in October 2011. The Tour was sponsored by Damaris Trust, UCCF and Premier Christian Radio.

The entire lecture “Can We Be Good Without God” can be viewed here:

For more resources visit Dr Craig’s website:

We welcome your comments in the Reasonable Faith forums:

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I have discussed many subjects with my liberal friends over at the Ark Times Blog in the past and I have taken them on now on the subject of the absurdity of life without God in the picture. Most of my responses included quotes from William Lane Craig’s book THE ABSURDITY OF LIFE WITHOUT GOD.  Here is the result of one of those encounters from June of 2013:

I wrote:

Outlier, if there is no afterlife then maybe Hitler lived “an honorable and fulfilling life” and he was not morally wrong since there are no absolute moral values that we can impose on German Society in the 1930’s and the Germans did think that Hitler was very good at that time. What right do atheists have to impose their morality on the German people then?

Of course, a Christian with his Bible can stand up to Hitler and say that the German laws against Jews were wrong because man is made in the image of God. This is because the infinite-personal God of the universe has revealed this truth in the Bible.

William Lane Craig notes:

Turn now to the problem of value. Here is where the most blatant inconsistencies occur. FIRST OF ALL, ATHEISTIC HUMANISTS ARE TOTALLY INCONSISTENT IN AFFIRMING THE TRADITIONAL VALUES OF LOVE AND BROTHERHOOD. Camus has been rightly criticized for inconsistently holding both to the absurdity of life and to the ethics of human love and brotherhood. The two are logically incompatible. Bertrand Russell, too, was inconsistent. For though he was an atheist, he was an outspoken social critic, denouncing war and restrictions on sexual freedom. Russell admitted that he could not live as though ethical values were simply a matter of personal taste, and that he therefore found his own views “incredible.” “I do not know the solution,” he confessed.17 The point is that if there is no God, then objective right and wrong cannot exist. As Dostoyevsky said, “All things are permitted.”

BUT DOSTOYVEVSKY ALSO SHOWED IN HIS NOVELS THAT MAN CANNOT LIVE THIS WAY. HE CANNOT LIVE AS THOUGH IT IS PERFECTLY ALL RIGHT FOR SOLDIERS TO SLAUGHTER INNOCENT CHILDREN. He cannot live as though it is all right for dictatorial regimes to follow a systematic program of physical torture of political prisoners. He cannot live as though it is all right for dictators like Pol Pot or Saddam Hussein to exterminate millions of their own countrymen. Everything in him cries out to say these acts are wrong—really wrong. But if there is no God, he cannot. So he makes a leap of faith and affirms values anyway. And when he does so, he reveals the inadequacy of a world without God.

He cannot live as though it is all right for dictatorial regimes to follow a systematic program of physical torture of political prisoners. He cannot live as though it is all right for dictators like Pol Pot or Saddam Hussein to exterminate millions of their own countrymen. Everything in him cries out to say these acts are wrong—really wrong. But if there is no God, he cannot. So he makes a leap of faith and affirms values anyway. And when he does so, he reveals the inadequacy of a world without God.

The horror of a world devoid of value was brought home to me with new intensity several years ago as I viewed a BBC television documentary called “The Gathering.” IT CONCERNED THE REUNION OF SURVIVORS OF THE HOLOCAUST IN JERUSALEM, where they rediscovered lost friendships and shared their experiences. NOW I HAD HEARD STORIES OF THE HOLOCAUST BEFORE AND HAD EVEN VISITED DACHAU AND BUCHENWALD, and I thought I was beyond shocking by further tales of horror. But I found that I was not. Perhaps I had been made more sensitive by the recent birth of our beautiful baby girl, so that I applied the situations to her as they were related on the television. In any case, one woman prisoner, a nurse, told of how she was made the gynecologist at Auschwitz. She observed that pregnant women were grouped together by the soldiers under the direction of Dr. Mengele and housed in the same barracks. Some time passed, and she noted that she no longer saw any of these women. She made inquiries. “Where are the pregnant women who were housed in that barracks?” “Haven’t you heard?” came the reply. “Dr. Mengele used them for vivisection.”

Another woman told of how Mengele had bound up her breasts so that she could not suckle her infant. The doctor wanted to learn how long an infant could survive without nourishment. Desperately this poor woman tried to keep her baby alive by giving it pieces of bread soaked in coffee, but to no avail. Each day the baby lost weight, a fact that was eagerly monitored by Dr. Mengele. A nurse then came secretly to this woman and told her, “I have arranged a way for you to get out of here, but you cannot take your baby with you. I have brought a morphine injection that you can give to your child to end its life.” When the woman protested, the nurse was insistent: “Look, your baby is going to die anyway. At least save yourself.” And so this mother felt compelled to take the life of her own baby. Dr. Mengele was furious when he learned of it because he had lost his experimental specimen, and he searched among the dead to find the baby’s discarded corpse so that he could have one last weighing.

My heart was torn by these stories. One rabbi who survived the camp summed it up well when he said that at Auschwitz it was as though there existed a world in which all the Ten Commandments were reversed: “Thou shalt kill, thou shalt lie, thou shalt steal …” Mankind had never seen such a hell.

And yet, if God does not exist, then in a sense, our world is Auschwitz: there is no right and wrong; all things are permitted. But no atheist, no agnostic, can live consistently with such a view of life. Nietzsche himself, who proclaimed the necessity of living “beyond good and evil,” broke with his mentor Richard Wagner precisely over the issue of the composer’s anti-Semitism and strident German nationalism. Similarly Sartre, writing in the aftermath of the Second World War, condemned anti-Semitism, declaring that a doctrine that leads to extermination is not merely an opinion or matter of personal taste, of equal value with its opposite.18 In his important essay “Existentialism Is a Humanism,” Sartre struggles vainly to elude the contradiction between his denial of divinely pre-established values and his urgent desire to affirm the value of human persons. Like Russell, he could not live with the implications of his own denial of ethical absolutes.

Neither can Richard Dawkins. For although he solemnly pronounces, “There is at bottom no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pointless indifference…. We are machines for propagating DNA,”19 he is a patent moralist. He declares himself mortified that Enron executive Jeff Skilling regards Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene as his favorite book because of its perceived Social Darwinism.20 He characterizes “Darwinian mistakes” like pity for someone unable to pay us back or sexual attraction to an infertile member of the opposite sex as “blessed, precious mistakes” and calls compassion and generosity “noble emotions.”21 He denounces the doctrine of original sin as “morally obnoxious.”22 He vigorously condemns such actions as the harassment and abuse of homosexuals, religious indoctrination of children, the Incan practice of human sacrifice, and prizing cultural diversity in the case of the Amish over the interests of their children.23 He even goes so far as to offer his own amended Ten Commandments for guiding moral behavior, all the while marvelously oblivious to the contradiction with his ethical subjectivism.24

A second problem for the atheist is that if God does not exist and there is no immortality, then all the evil acts of men go unpunished and all the sacrifices of good men go unrewarded. But who can live with such a view? Richard Wurmbrand, who has been tortured for his faith in communist prisons, says,

The cruelty of atheism is hard to believe when man has no faith in the reward of good or the punishment of evil. There is no reason to be human. There is no restraint from the depths of evil which is in man. The communist torturers often said, “There is no God, no Hereafter, no punishment for evil. We can do what we wish.” I have heard one torturer even say, “I thank God, in whom I don’t believe, that I have lived to this hour when I can express all the evil in my heart.” He expressed it in unbelievable brutality and torture inflicted on prisoners.25

The English theologian Cardinal Newman once said that if he believed that all the evils and injustices of life throughout history were not to be made right by God in the afterlife, “Why I think I should go mad.” Rightly so.

And the same applies to acts of self-sacrifice. A number of years ago, a terrible mid-winter air disaster occurred when a plane leaving the Washington, D.C., airport smashed into a bridge spanning the Potomac River, plunging its passengers into the icy waters. As the rescue helicopters came, attention was focused on one man who again and again pushed the dangling rope ladder to other passengers rather than be pulled to safety himself. Six times he passed the ladder by. When they came again, he was gone. He had freely given his life that others might live. The whole nation turned its eyes to this man in respect and admiration for the selfless and good act he had performed. And yet, if the atheist is right, that man was not noble—he did the stupidest thing possible. He should have gone for the ladder first, pushed others away if necessary in order to survive. But to die for others he did not even know, to give up all the brief existence he would ever have—what for? For the atheist there can be no reason. And yet the atheist, like the rest of us, instinctively reacts with praise for this man’s selfless action. Indeed, one will probably never find an atheist who lives consistently with his system. For a universe without moral account-ability and devoid of value is unimaginably terrible.

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The artwork of Ellsworth Kelly



Ellsworth Kelly

ellsworth kelly

Ellsworth Kelly

Featured artist today is Ellsworth Kelly

Interview with Visual Artist Ellsworth Kelly at Art Basel

Uploaded on Jun 4, 2008 | In honor of Ellsworth Kelly’s 85th birthday, Matthew Marks Gallery presents a one-person exhibition by the artist at Art 39 Basel. On display at the gallery’s booth at Art Basel are 20 works by Ellsworth Kelly made over the course of his nearly 60 year career. VernissageTV correspondent Sabine Trieloff met Ellsworth Kelly on the occasion of his exhibition. In this conversation, Ellsworth Kelly talks about his work and present and future projects. Ellsworth Kelly is also featured in the Fernand Léger exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel (on view through September 7, 2008). Basel, June 3, 2008.

American Abstraction Since Ellsworth Kelly

Great article on Ellsworth Kelly:

Ellsworth Kelly

American Painter and Sculptor

Movements: Minimalism, Hard-edge Painting

Born: May 31, 1923 – Newburgh, New York

“I have worked to free shape from its ground, and then to work the shape so that it has a definite relationship to the space around it; so that it has a clarity and a measure within itself of its parts (angles, curves, edges and mass); and so that, with color and tonality, the shape finds its own space and always demands its freedom and separateness.”


Ellsworth Kelly has been a widely influential force in the post-war art world. He first rose to critical acclaim in the 1950s with his bright, multi-paneled and largely monochromatic canvases. Maintaining a persistent focus on the dynamic relationships between shape, form and color, Kelly was one of the first artists to create irregularly shaped canvases. His subsequent layered reliefs, flat sculptures, and line drawings further challenged viewers’ conceptions of space. While not adhering to any one artistic movement, Kelly vitally influenced the development of Minimalism, Hard-edge painting, Color Field, and Pop art.

Key Ideas

Kelly intends for viewers to experience his artwork with instinctive, physical responses to the work’s structure, color, and surrounding space rather than with contextual or interpretive analysis. He encourages a kind of silent encounter, or bodily participation by the viewer with the artwork, chiefly by presenting bold and contrasting colors free of gestural brushstrokes or recognizable imagery, panels protruding gracefully from the wall, and irregular forms inhabiting space as confidently as the viewer before them.
Real-life observations are the backbone of Kelly’s abstraction works, which are replications of the shapes, shadows, and other visual sensations he experiences in the world around him. As did the early twentieth century Dadaists, Kelly delights in the spontaneous, the casual, and the ephemeral means of finding such “readymade” subjects.
The subtle fluctuation between the meditative, decorative and industrial in much of Kelly’s work can be traced in part to this design training in art school. In this sense, Kelly continuesHenri Matisse’s lyrical and decorative ideal of creating an art of visual serenity, even as the painted motif is now reduced to its simplest and sometimes most mysterious configuration. The special camouflage unit of which Kelly was a part during his service in World War II, and the principles of visual scrambling he undertook, has also contributed greatly to Kelly’s intense visual motifs.

Most Important Art

Red Blue Green (1963)
Kelly put great emphasis on the tensions between the ‘figure’ and the ‘ground’ in his paintings, aiming to establish dynamism within otherwise flat surfaces. In Red Blue Green, part of his crucial series exploring this motif, Kelly’s sharply delineated, bold red and blue shapes both contrast and resonate with the solid green background, taking natural forms as inspiration. The relationship between the two balanced forms and the surrounding color anticipates the powerful depth that defined Kelly’s later relief paintings. Therefore, these works serve an important bridge connecting his flat, multi-panel paintings to his sculptural, layered works.
Oil on canvas. Dimensions: 83 5/8 x 135 7/8 inches. Photo courtesy of the artist. ©Estate of Ellsworth Kelly – The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, gift of Dr. and Mrs. Jack M. Farris

More Art Works

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Born in Newburgh, New York in 1923, Ellsworth Kelly was the second of three boys. He grew up in northern New Jersey, where he spent much of his time alone, often watching birds and insects. These observations of nature would later inform his unique way of creating and looking at art. After graduating from high school, he studied technical art and design at the Pratt Institute from 1941-1942. His parents, an insurance company executive and a teacher, were practical and supported his art career only if he pursued this technical training. In 1943, Kelly enlisted in the army and joined the camouflage unit called “the Ghost Army,” which had among its members many artists and designers. The unit’s task was to misdirect enemy soldiers with inflatable tanks. While in the army, Kelly served in France, England and Germany, including a brief stay in Paris. His visual experiences with camouflage and shadows, as well as his short time in Paris strongly impacted Kelly’s aesthetic and future career path.

Early Training

After his army discharge in 1945, Kelly studied at the Boston Museum of the Fine Arts School for two years, where his work was largely figurative and classical. In 1948, with support from the G.I. Bill, he returned to Paris and began a six-year stay. Abstract Expressionism was taking shape in the U.S., but Kelly’s physical distance allowed him to develop his style away from its dominating influence. He enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, saying at that point, “I wasn’t interested in abstraction at all. I was interested in Picasso, in the Renaissance.” Romanesqueand Byzantine art appealed to him, as did the Surrealist method of automatic drawing and the concept of art dictated by chance.

While absorbing the work of these many movements and artists, Kelly has said, “I was deciding what I didn’t want in a painting, and just kept throwing things out – like marks, lines and the painted edge.” During a visit to the Musee d’Art Moderne in Paris, he paid more attention to the museum’s windows than to the art on display. Directly inspired by this observation, he created his own version of these windows. After that point, he has said, “Painting as I had known it was finished for me. Everywhere I looked, everything I saw, became something to be made, and it had to be made exactly as it was, with nothing added.” This view shaped what would become Kelly’s overarching artistic perspective throughout his career, and his way of transforming what he saw in reality into the abstracted content, form, and colors of his art.

Mature Period

Ellsworth Kelly Biography

After being well received within the Paris art world, Kelly left for New York in 1954, at the height of Abstract Expressionism. While his work markedly differed from that of his New York colleagues, he said, “By the time I got to New York I felt like I was already through with gesture. I wanted something more subdued, less conscious.. I didn’t want my personality in it. The space I was interested in was not the surface of the painting, but the space between you and the painting.” Although his work was not a reaction to Abstract Expressionism, Kelly did find inspiration in the large scale of the Abstract Expressionist works and continued creating ever-larger paintings and sculptures.

In New York City, while creating canvases with precise blocks of solid color, he lived in a community with such artists as James Rosenquist, Jack Youngerman, and Agnes Martin. The Betty Parsons Gallery gave Kelly his first solo show in 1956. In 1959, he was part of the Museum of Modern Art’s major Sixteen Americans exhibition, alongside Jasper Johns, Frank Stella and Robert Rauschenberg.

His rectangular panels gave way to unconventionally shaped canvases, painted in bold, monochromatic colors. At the same time, Kelly was making sculptures comprised of flat shapes and bright color. His sculptures were largely two-dimensional and shallow, more so than his paintings. Conversely, in the paintings he was experimenting with relief. During the 1960s, Kelly began printmaking as well. Throughout his career, frequent subjects for his lithographs and drawings have been simple, lined renditions of plants, leaves and flowers. In these works, as with his abstracted paintings, Kelly placed primary importance in form and shape.

Late Period

In 1970, Kelly moved to upstate New York, where he continues to reside and work today. Over the next two decades, he made use of his bigger studio space by creating even larger multi-panel works and outdoor steel, aluminum and bronze sculptures. He also adopted more curved forms in both canvas shapes and areas of precisely painted color. In addition to creating totemic sculptures, Kelly began making publicly commissioned artwork, including a sculpture for the city of Barcelona in 1978 and an installation for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. in 1993. He continues to make new paintings, sculptures, drawings and lithographs, even re-visiting older collages and drawings and turning them into new works. The more recent creations have expanded his use of relief and layering, while continuing to utilize brightly colored, abstracted shapes. Kelly is currently represented by Matthew Marks Gallery in New York City.


Ellsworth Kelly Photo

When Kelly returned to the United States from Paris in 1954, he joined a new wave of American painters coming of age in the wake of Abstract Expressionism, many wishing to turn away from the New York School’s preoccupation with inner, ego-based psychological expression toward a new mode of working with broad fields of color, the empirical observation of nature, and the referencing of everyday life. Kelly was increasingly influential during the early 1960s and 1970s among his own circle, including Robert Indiana, Agnes Martin, and James Rosenquist. He also provided an example of abstract, scaled-down visual reflection to evolving Minimalist sculptors such as Donald Judd, Carl Andre, and Richard Serra. More recently, Donald Sultan’s schematic, abstract still lives of fruit, flowers, and other everyday subjects clearly owe a debt to Kelly’s example, as does the work of many graphic designers of the postwar period.

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MUSIC MONDAY Brian Welch of Korn and his Christian conversion and deliverance from drugs Part 3

Brian Welch of Korn and his Christian conversion  and deliverance from drugs Part 3

Brian Welch: From Korn to Jesus

Uploaded on Aug 22, 2008

Former guitarist and co-founder of heavy rock group Korn, Brian Welch talks about the amazing turn his life took when he accepted God for who He is. Saved from drugs and addiction, Welch tells his amazing testimony of Jesus’ love and salvation.

Want to learn more about how Jesus can change your life? Go here to find out more:…

Still have questions? We’d love to hear from you. Just go here:…


Korn – Blind


Korn guitarist Brian Welch speaks on God, sobriety

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NEIL BLAKE | nblake@mdn.netBrian “Head” Welch talks at Bullock Creek High School auditorium about his transformation from a drug addict to a follower of Jesus on Wednesday. Welch spoke openly about his band, Korn, and their rise to fame and his  struggles with alcohol and substance abuse.

Korn guitarist, former drug addict and reformed Christian Brian “Head” Welch stepped out onto Bullock Creek Auditorium’s stage last night to tell his story after a fitting introduction — that we are all “children of God,” whether we’re black, white, straight, gay, dressed in leather or tattooed.

Fitting, because Welch looked just like a man you’d never want to cross. Dreadlocks hung down to his waist, tattoos crawled up his arms. His iPhone — from which he opened with a Psalm — was linked by a long, thin silver chain to his black pants.

His honesty, though, was instantly disarming. Pacing back and forth, Welch told his life’s story in quick, almost nervous words, speaking with the humor and charisma of a man without pretense. He told listeners early that you can tell when someone’s faking it, and promised to be as genuine with them as he could.

Welch was in Midland to talk about his tumultuous past and journey to Christianity via metal music and drugs. Brought to Midland by the STEP UP organization and numerous area churches, he spent the afternoon visiting recovering substance abusers in the Ten Sixteen Recovery Network in Midland before Wednesday evening’s talk.

He rewound back to age 10, when he discovered the guitar as a young boy living in Bakersfield, Calif. As his life went on, it never really involved Christianity — church “felt like a funeral,” and even though he had a friend and an adult in his life both work to get him interested, nothing permanently stuck.

As he grew older — into his late teens and early 20s — he stayed outside of faith. “Music, my friends, and having a good time — that’s all I knew,” he said, noting his experiences with alcohol and marijuana: “That’s what life is like without God, and I lived that way for years.”

Welch moved to Hollywood around age 20 to follow friends who were already pursuing music there. It wasn’t a quick road to the top, though — Welch worked as their roadie, paying the rent by working for Pizza Hut and as a furniture mover.

After a move back to Bakersfield, when he was about to give up on a life in music, his friends invited him to join their band. From those beginnings, Korn was born, and within a year, they’d landed a record deal.

That’s where things started to take a marked turn, both for the better and for the worse. While Welch was touring with Korn, he started using speed.

“When you get that big, every coke dealer wants to come out and give you their stuff,” he said, from girls to drugs. Over the years, Welch slipped deeper and deeper into his addiction, trying numerous drugs, including Vicodin and Xanax.

He had a few short recoveries. The first came after his marriage and the birth of his daughter, lasting four months, until Korn’s bassist asked him at a concert, “you’re not going to watch Rage (Against the Machine) sober, are you? Have fun with that.”

Other recoveries were similar stories.

Eventually, Welch’s marriage — his wife was also addicted during those years — collapsed. The turning point came when a group of Realtors he’d invested with invited him to church. There, he met people who weren’t “perfect” — for example, the pastor had beaten his wife before committing himself to Christianity, eventually saving his marriage.

The message stuck with Welch this time, and though he had some backsliding, he started making his way toward recovery. He said he had to turn down some temptations to make it work, though — Korn signed a $25 million record deal shortly after he left the band.

But today, Welch is sober, and has a new reputation among metal musicians for his beliefs. Gene Simmons once mentioned it to him at a concert: “So, are you over all this Jesus stuff yet?”

Welch said he doesn’t let it bother him, and that it’s almost a badge of honor. “That guy (Simmons) knows me as the Jesus Guy, even if he’s kind of mocking,” he said.

His career has turned around, too. Korn has reunited, all sober, and another member is Christian as well. Besides his former band, Welch works with another musical project, Love and Death, and is the author of multiple books, including “Stronger: Forty Days of Metal and Spirituality.”

Kurt Faust, founder and president of STEP UP (Success Through Education and Positive Coaching), was instrumental in bringing Welch to Midland. Faust said he’s always been a “metalhead,” even when he was a counselor at H.H. Dow High School.

“But I drew the line at death metal,” Faust said, “because as a counselor I could see the negative impact it was making on kids — and Korn was under that line.”

Since Welch’s direction change, though, he’s become the kind of person Faust wanted to bring to Midland.

“There are a lot of Brians in this town,” Faust said — a lot of people who are struggling and could use a role model like Welch.

Nonetheless, Faust said he was nervous about the event. “It’s an incredible risk,” he said, “because it’s a very conservative community.”

The audience, about 200 strong, didn’t seem to mind.

Dave Vercellino, associate pastor at New Life Vineyard Church in Midland, said he was impressed by Welch’s story.

“It gives us all hope,” he said, that no matter how bad the choice we make might be, we can still turn our lives around.

Sylvia Claes, 19, was brought by her friend, who wanted to expose her to Christianity.

“I liked how real his story was,” Claes said,” like he said at the beginning, you can tell when people are being phony.”

Though the next few days and weeks will keep him in Los Angeles shooting music videos with Korn, Welch can’t reliably predict where he’ll be in the long term. Two short years ago, he would have never placed himself where he is now.

As far as speaking, Welch said he does it to help other people who are in the dark like he was — “people who are stuck.”

“It’s nothing about me,” Welch said.

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The artwork of Claes Oldenburg

Alphabet/Good Humor

IMG 1804 Alphabet/Good Humor claes oldenburg

Featured artist is Claes Oldenburg

Claes Oldenburg

Claes Oldenburg

Claes Oldenburg

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Claes Oldenburg
Museum Ludwig - Pressekonferenz - Claes Oldenburg-3979.jpg

Claes Oldenburg 2012
Born January 28, 1929 (age 86)
Stockholm, Sweden
Nationality American
Education Latin School of Chicago,
Art Institute of Chicago,
Yale University
Known for Sculpture, Public Art
Movement Pop Art
Awards Rolf Schock Prizes in Visual Arts(1995)

Claes Oldenburg (born January 28, 1929) is an American sculptor, best known for his public art installations typically featuring very large replicas of everyday objects. Another theme in his work is soft sculpture versions of everyday objects. Many of his works were made in collaboration with his wife, Coosje van Bruggen. Van Bruggen died in 2009 after 32 years of marriage. Oldenburg lives and works in New York.

Early life and education[edit]

Claes Oldenburg was born on January 28, 1929 in Stockholm, the son of Gösta Oldenburg[1] and his wife Sigrid Elisabeth née Lindforss.[2] His father was then a Swedish diplomat stationed in New York and in 1936 was appointed Consul General of Sweden to Chicago where Oldenburg grew up, attending the Latin School of Chicago. He studied literature and art history at Yale University[3] from 1946 to 1950, then returned to Chicago where he took classes at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. While further developing his craft, he worked as a reporter at the City News Bureau of Chicago. He also opened his own studio and, in 1953, became a naturalized citizen of the United States. In 1956, he moved to New York, working part-time in the library of the Cooper Union Museum for the Arts of Decoration.[4]


Oldenburg’s first recorded sales of artworks were at the 57th Street Art Fair in Chicago, where he sold 5 items for a total price of $25.[5] He moved back to New York City in 1956. There he met a number of artists, including Jim Dine, Red Grooms, and Allan Kaprow, whose Happenings incorporated theatrical aspects and provided an alternative to the abstract expressionism that had come to dominate much of the art scene. Oldenburg began toying with the idea of soft sculpture in 1957, when he completed a free-hanging piece made from a woman’s stocking stuffed with newspaper. (The piece was untitled when he made it but is now referred to as Sausage.)[6]

In 1959, Oldenburg started to make figures, signs and objects out of papier-mâché, sacking and other rough materials, followed in 1961 by objects in plaster and enamel based on items of food and cheap clothing.[4]Oldenburg’s first show that included three-dimensional works, in May 1959, was at the Judson Gallery, at Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square.[7] During this time, artist Robert Beauchamp described Oldenburg as “brilliant,” due to the reaction that the pop artist brought to a “dull” abstract expressionist period.[8]

In the 1960s Oldenburg became associated with the Pop Art movement and created many so-called happenings, which were performance art related productions of that time. The name he gave to his own productions was “Ray Gun Theater”. The cast of colleagues who appeared in his performances of included artists Lucas Samaras, Tom Wesselman, Carolee Schneemann, Oyvind Fahlstrom and Richard Artschwager, dealer Annina Nosei, critic Barbara Rose, and screenwriter Rudy Wurlitzer.[6] His first wife (1960–1970) Patty Mucha, who sewed many of his early soft sculptures, was a constant performer in his happenings. This brash, often humorous, approach to art was at great odds with the prevailing sensibility that, by its nature, art dealt with “profound” expressions or ideas. But Oldenburg’s spirited art found first a niche then a great popularity that endures to this day. In December 1961, he rented a store on Manhattan’s Lower East Side to house “The Store,” a month-long installation he had first presented at the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York, stocked with sculptures roughly in the form of consumer goods.[6]

Oldenburg moved to Los Angeles in 1963 “because it was the most opposite thing to New York I could think of”.[6] That same year, he conceived AUT OBO DYS, performed in the parking lot of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in December 1963. In 1965 he turned his attention to drawings and projects for imaginary outdoor monuments. Initially these monuments took the form of small collages such as a crayon image of a fat, fuzzy teddy bear looming over the grassy fields of New York’s Central Park (1965)[9] and Lipsticks in Piccadilly Circus, London (1966).[10] In 1967, New York city cultural adviser Sam Green realized Oldenburg’s first outdoor public monument; Placid Civic Monument took the form of a Conceptual performance/action behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, with a crew of gravediggers digging a 6-by-3-foot rectangular hole in the ground.[3]In 1969, Oldenberg contributed a drawing to the Moon Museum.

Many of Oldenburg’s large-scale sculptures of mundane objects elicited ridicule before being accepted. For example, the 1969 Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks, was removed from its original place in Beinecke Plaza atYale University, and “circulated on a loan basis to other campuses”.[11] With its “bright color, contemporary form and material and its ignoble subject, it attacked the sterility and pretentiousness of the classicistic building behind it.” The artist “pointed out it opposed levity to solemnity, color to colorlessness, metal to stone, simple to asophisticated tradition. In theme, it is both phallic, life-engendering, and a bomb, the harbinger of death. Male in form, it is female in subject…”[11] One of a number of sculptures that have interactive capabilities, it now resides in the Morse College courtyard.

From the early 1970s Oldenburg concentrated almost exclusively on public commissions.[10] His first public work, “Three-Way Plug” came on commission from Oberlin College with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.[12] His collaboration with Dutch/American writer and art historian Coosje van Bruggen dates from 1976. Their first collaboration came when Oldenburg was commissioned to rework Trowel I, a 1971 sculpture of an oversize garden tool, for the grounds of the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, the Netherlands.[13] Oldenburg has officially signed all the work he has done since 1981 with both his own name and van Bruggen’s.[6] In 1988, the two created the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture for the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota that remains a staple of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden as well as a classic image of the city. Typewriter Eraser, Scale X (1999) is in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. Another well known construction is the Free Stamp in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. This Free Stamp has an energetic cult following.[citation needed]

In addition to freestanding projects, they occasionally contributed to architectural projects, among them two Los Angeles projects in collaboration with architect Frank O. Gehry: Toppling Ladder With Spilling Paint, which was installed at Loyola Law School in 1986, and Binoculars, Chiat/Day Building, completed in Venice in 1991;.[6] The couple’s collaboration with Gehry also involved a return to performance for Oldenburg when the trio presented Il Corso del Coltello, in Venice, Italy, in 1985; other characters were portrayed by Germano Celant and Pontus Hultén.[14] “Coltello” is the source of “Knife Ship,” a large-scale sculpture that served as the central prop; it was later seen in Los Angeles in 1988 when Oldenburg, Van Bruggen and Gehry presented Coltello Recalled: Reflections on a Performance at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center and the exhibition Props, Costumes and Designs for the Performance “Il Corso del Coltello” at Margo Leavin Gallery.[6]

In 2001, Oldenburg and van Bruggen created ‘Dropped Cone’, a huge inverted ice cream cone, on top of a shopping center in Cologne, Germany.[15] Installed at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2011, Paint Torchis a towering 53-foot-high pop sculpture of a paintbrush, capped with bristles that are illuminated at night. The sculpture is installed at a daring 60-degree angle, as if in the act of painting.[16]


Claes Oldenburg in Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (1970)

Oldenburg’s first one-man show in 1959, at the Judson Gallery in New York, included figurative drawings and papier-mâché sculptures.[10] He was honored with a solo exhibition of his work at the Moderna Museet (organized by Pontus Hultén), in 1966; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1969; and with a retrospective organized by Germano Celant at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum,[17] New York, in 1995 (travelling to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn; and Hayward Gallery, London). In 2002 the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York held a retrospective of the drawings of Oldenburg and Van Bruggen; the same year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York exhibited a selection of their sculptures on the roof of the museum.[3]

Oldenburg is represented by The Pace Gallery in New York and Margo Leavin Gallery in Los Angeles.

The city of Milan, Italy, commissioned the work known as Needle, Thread and Knot (Italian: Ago, filo e nodo) which is installed in the Piazzale Cadorna.


In 1989, Oldenburg won the Wolf Prize in Arts. In 2000, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.[18] Oldenburg has also received honorary degrees from Oberlin College, Ohio, in 1970;Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, in 1979; Bard College, New York, in 1995; and Royal College of Art, London, in 1996, as well as the following awards: Brandeis University Sculpture Award, 1971; Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture, 1972; Art Institute of Chicago, First Prize Sculpture Award, 72nd American Exhibition, 1976; Medal, American Institute of Architects, 1977; Wilhelm-Lehmbruck Prize for Sculpture, Duisburg, Germany, 1981; Brandeis University Creative Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, The Jack I. and Lillian Poses Medal for Sculpture, 1993; Rolf Schock Foundation Prize, Stockholm, Sweden, 1995. He is a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters since 1975 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1978.[19]

Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen have together received honorary degrees from California College of the Arts, San Francisco, California, in 1996; University of Teesside, Middlesbrough, England, in 1999; Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 2005; the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan, in 2005, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 2011. Awards of their collaboration include the Distinction in Sculpture, SculptureCenter, New York (1994); Nathaniel S. Saltonstall Award, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (1996); Partners in Education Award, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2002); and Medal Award, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2004).[19]

In her 16-minute, 16mm film Manhattan Mouse Museum (2011), artist Tacita Dean captured Oldenburg in his studio as he gently handles and dusts the small objects that line his bookshelves. The film is less about the artist’s iconography than the embedded intellectual process that allows him to transform everyday objects into remarkable sculptural forms.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Patty Mucha was Oldenburg’s first wife, from 1960 to 1970. She was a constant performer in Oldenburg’s happenings and performed with The Druds.

Between 1969 and 1977, Oldenburg was in a relationship with the feminist artist and sculptor, Hannah Wilke, who died in 1993.[21] They shared several studios and traveled together, and Wilke often photographed him.

Oldenburg and his second wife, Coosje van Bruggen, met in 1970 when Oldenburg’s first major retrospective traveled to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, where van Bruggen was a curator.[22] They were married in 1977.[23]

In 1992 Oldenburg and van Bruggen acquired Château de la Borde, a small Loire Valley chateau, whose music room gave them the idea of making a domestically sized collection.[22] Van Bruggen and Oldenburg renovated the house, decorating it with modernist pieces by Le Corbusier, Charles and Ray Eames, Alvar Aalto, Frank Gehry, Eileen Gray.[24] Van Bruggen died on January 10, 2009, from the effects of breast cancer.[13]

Oldenburg’s brother, art historian Richard E. Oldenburg, was director of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, between 1972 and 1993,[6] and later chairman of Sotheby’s America.[25]

Art market[edit]

Oldenburg’s sculpture Typewriter Eraser (1976), the third piece from an edition of three, was sold for $2.2 million at Christie’s New York in 2009.[26]


Claes Oldenburg 2

Claes Oldenburg

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