Friday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

The week has gone by quickly, but the text of my children’s book is now in pretty good shape. If it ever sees the light of day, every reader should buy it. Note that August 26, as in every year since 1972, is Women’s Equality Day, the day that the 19th amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote, became law in 1920.

On this day in 1498, Michelangelo got his commission to carve the Pietà, one of the greatest sculptures of all time. I remember seeing it at the World’s Fair in Flushing in 1964; like all viewers, I stood on a conveyer belt that moved past the statue. It now reposes in the Vatican, and I hope to Ceiling Cat they never try to ship it again. Here it is; have you seen it?

 One other fun fact from Wikipedia:
According to Giorgio Vasari, shortly after the installation of his Pietà, Michelangelo overheard (or asked visitors about the sculptor) someone remark that it was the work of another sculptor, Cristoforo Solari, whereupon Michelangelo signed the sculpture.Michelangelo carved MICHAELA[N]GELUS BONAROTUS FLORENTIN[US] FACIEBA[T] (Michelangelo Buonarroti, Florentine, was making this) on the sash running across Mary’s chest. The signature echoes one used by the ancient Greek artists, Apelles and Polykleitos. It was the only work he ever signed. Vasari also reports the anecdote that Michelangelo later regretted his outburst of pride and swore never to sign another work of his hands.
And his signature:
pieta' firma
Notables born on this day include Antoine Lavoisier (1743); those who died on this day include Frans Hals (1666), Matthew Cobb’s hero Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1723), and Charles Lindbergh (1974). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili will have to settle for a domestic rather than a wild dinner:
Hili: Let’s go home.
A: Why?
Hili: My dinner flew away, I have to see what’s in the pantry.
In Polish:
Hili: Wracamy do domu.
Ja: Dlaczego?
Hili: Obiad odfrunął, trzeba zobaczyć co jest w spiżarni.
And in Southern Poland, Leon faces a dilemma:

Leon: A nap or a hike? That is the question.



  1. Posted August 26, 2016 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Hi Jerry,

    Do you mean “I remember seeing it at the World’s Fair in Flushing in 1964; like all viewers, I stood on a conveyer belt that moved past the statue.” ?

    I have not Yet!) had the pleasure of viewing that sculpture. But, when I finally get to visit Rome (I’ve been to much of Liguria, Toscana, and Umbria), I will see it. I’ve only been to the airport in Rome, which doesn’t count.

  2. Stephen Barnard
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    You forgot to mention that it’s National Dog Day.

  3. Christopher
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    riding a conveyor belt to view art? ha! how very Jetsons of you! That sounds straight out of one of those Popular Science future magazines. What great but goofy ideas the post-war world had; a scientific utopia is certainly preferable to our current obsession with a zombie-filled dystopia. Cheers!

    • Posted August 26, 2016 at 7:38 am | Permalink

      You still ride a conveyor belt to see the UK Crown Jewels.

      I think the main point is to keep the crowd moving and not have people stop in front of the attraction for long periods (which they would do).

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted August 27, 2016 at 6:13 am | Permalink

        Probably also provides “protection” for the sales of official photographs

        I’m trying to think of “dog Latin” for “income conquers all” ; “… vincit omnes” would work, but I can’t think of something for “income” … “lucre vincit omnes” – how does that grate with our resident Classicists?.

        And come to think of it, if I’ve got to arrange security for such an item, then the possibility of knowing that any person (or weight, opacity or heat) outside this area is not meant to be there … yes, I can easily see why they chose that option. User experience is not the only consideration, by long chalk.

    • barn owl
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      People shuffle through, and periodically stop in, the long main hall of Sanjusangendo in Kyoto at greatly varying rates. However, a conveyor belt would completely ruin the experience, IMHO (and I’m not a spiritual or religious person by any metric). Installing a conveyor belt might disrupt the earthquake-resistant properties of the hall too.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted August 27, 2016 at 6:15 am | Permalink

        Hmm,”earthquakes” seem to be popping up in people’s minds like nuts to the top of the muesli. Who or what rattled that cage?

  4. Marilee Lovit
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    I have seen the sculpture in Rome. What also come to mind are Michelangelo’s sculptures “Dawn” and “Dusk” in Florence, which left a lasting impression with me.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 27, 2016 at 6:16 am | Permalink

      You dropped them on your foot?
      (Sorry – couldn’t resist the target!)

  5. Mike
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    I stood awestruck in front of “David” in Florence, I haven’t seen the “Pietá”, but if I ever do, no doubt i’ll be awestruck again.

    • Posted August 26, 2016 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      Yes, the David is the most impressive sculpture I’ve yet seen. Though the Rodin Museum in Paris is wonderful as well.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    I remember seeing it at the World’s Fair in Flushing in 1964 …

    That’s probably as good a place as any to date the dawn of the Sixties to, don’t you think?

    LBJ was busy ramming CRA ’64 past congressman Jim Crow. Couple months earlier, the lads had been on Ed’s really big shew, and Cassius had KO’d Sonny. Couple before that, Lee Harvey had punched JFK’s ticket in Dallas. And a couple months later, Mr. Savio was exhorting his UC-Berkeley comrades to lay their bodies upon the gears and the wheels and the levers of The Machine.

    • Mary Pladsen
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      And that was the year I graduated from high school.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        Another touchstone 1964 achievement that I should have included! Sorry. 🙂

  7. Nicholas Arand
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I’ve seen it.
    What really impresses me in Michelangelo’s work is that, as we normally can’t touch it, we hardly realize that they are really made of solid stone, such the ability of the artist has to turn stone into something as light as air.
    For me, his best work is Moses, also in Rome.

  8. bluemaas
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Some continue to try to point out and to make crystal clear: something else to remember today and to find in disbelief .still. is .the FACT. that:

    for over half of this nation’s population, the right to vote was and is only ONE of the bagazillion rights of human beings, that is, of “humans’ rights” that, still less than a hundred years ago, became by law guaranteed.

    By law, this one — “In 1923, it was introduced in the Congress for the first time” — of those bagazillion rights is NOT yet — in y2016 — guaranteed for women and girls:

    Flip / Reverse: .What right(s). — by law not yet done as a nation (or elsewhere, for that matter) — of and for the male gender compares ?

    Yellow Roses to ALL —

    ps as of thus: and not to be forgotten from history among very, very many other of such imprisoned nights: the Night of Terror in the Occoquan Workhouse Prison as of these and with Ms Alice Paul as portrayed here by Ms Hilary Swank in My own mother, on that specific night of 14 November y1917, was exactly that precise day eight months old.

  9. HaggisForBrains
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 9:59 am | Permalink


  10. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    The Pieta is lovely but I’ve been in Catholic churches that both had a reproduction of it and otherwise truly dreadful statues.
    It reminds me of the time I saw a production of “Camelot” in which that singer playing Guinevere was a professionally trained soprano, and the singing of Arthur (although a well-known actor) was adequate at best.

    Fortunately, much of the other art in the Vatican is actually quite good.


    Like Galileo, Lavoisier (the “father of modern chemistry”) a pioneering scientist, and both men were unjustly condemned (Lavoisier was even executed), but unlike Galileo AL’s troubles really really WERE for entirely political reasons.

    Apologists for accomodationism who claim the trial of Galileo was mainly political would do well to try to explain the difference between the extended house arrest of Galileo and the execution of Lavoisier!!

  11. Steve
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Saw it in the Vatican last year. You have to stand behind glass about 30 feet away in a big crowd.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      I presume that’s to protect it, and it’s so sad.

      Good art needs to be contemplated imo and you can’t do that from a conveyor belt, or at a distance through glass.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 27, 2016 at 6:20 am | Permalink

      Slavering guard dogs and red-hot barbed-wire whips for encouraging the crowd to move on? Or is that next year?

  12. gscott
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Yup, rode past it on that same conveyor belt.

  13. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    It now reposes in the Vatican, and I hope to Ceiling Cat they never try to ship it again.

    Given the general seismicity of Italy, the decidedly explosive Colli Albano volcano in the suburbs of Rome … let’s just hope you don’t have to revisit that any time soon.
    I was just double-checking which volcano I was thinking of (I have a mental crossed wire between the Colli Albano and the Phlegrean Fields in Naples and sometimes associate one’s characteristics with the other), and came across the phrase “catastrophic lahar events”. This is polysyllabic geologistese for “not a good day”, or as my fellow cave divers would put it, “an overwhelming urge to be elsewhere – the OUTBEs”.
    Have the Italians made any threats to jail seismologists for not predicting this most recent earthquake? They really encouraged the free and open exchange of concerns with their last attempt to jail researchers.

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