Some Buddhas in South Korea

In the National Cultural Museum at Ichon in West Seoul there is a remarkable collection of Buddhas, some formed from stone, others from wood and bronze.   Their diversity speaks of a long and rich history.

This rather severe bronze Buddha has an open left hand, for the healing and salvation of devotees.  It must be remembered that the word Buddha refers as much to a historical person as it does to spiritual attainment.  The original Buddha, the historical personage, is called Sakyamuni Buddha in South Korea.


This figure represents the state between outward action in the world and the inward spiritual process.  The hands are not at rest as the rest of the body is  The hole in the forehead was probably filled by a jewel at some point.  The visage is radiantly serene.

With the left hand upward in the act of salvation the figure has a background of flame, representing the attainment of spiritual ecstasy.  I have never understood the style of hair in Buddhas like these, assuming, of course, that the rough coverage does represent hair.

Perhaps it is only the lighting, but this figure feels to me to be in the process of isolation from the world – a cold height of infinite peace.  It is interesting how often the visage of the Buddha is androgenous:  perhaps it is the embodiment of yin and yang, the two polarities of each soul.

This Buddha feels more Indian, Thai or Indonesian in that he has been given four arms.  The multiplicity of arms, I’ve seen in Hindu figures, represents the sometimes contradictory functions of the god.  This is atypical for South Korea.  Devotees have told me that the Buddha is not seen as a god, though there is respect, honour and reverence.

I am not sure whether this figure was intended to be a Buddha figure.  I was struck, as I’ve often been, by its delicacy and by the strength of its devotion.

(c) Will van der Walt

http://www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

July, 2018

 

My photographs

 

Buddha of the Rocks, near Andong

 

 

Some (more) Buddhas in South Korea

The second in a series of two

This bronze head of the Buddha illustrates considerable skill:  closed eyes can so easily represent repose and passivity.  These eyes do not.  I feel the inward process in the way the figure has been made.  Again, the androgyny is present, perhaps so that the contemplative may never rest in one polarity of being.

In this much-weathered visage the inner joy and even humour cannot be mistaken.  This, the implication is, is a solitary state, entirely spiritual and not dependent on any other being or thing.

I am amazed at how Greek or Italian this face is.  The inner state often mirrored in th visage of the Buddha has been replaced to a certain extent by an intellectual certainty, something with a sharp edge.

This Buddha is at the Bongeunsa monastries in South Seoul.  As a standing Buddha he has his left hand open for the salvation of humankind.  What the square headdress is about I couldn’t say.  He stands about three storeys high in a beautiful green setting.

It would seem that Buddhists have their sentimental side as well.  Interesting to see the adult face of strong serenity in the face of the baby.  This was a little way from the previous figure at Bongeunsa.

(c) Will van der Walt

http://www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

July, 2018 

 

My photographs

Buddha of the Rocks, near Andong

 

 

ERIC MCKEOWN – Photographer

I have for many years admired the photography of Eric McKeown, a South African cameraman and artist.  He was born in the 1960s and I have always sensed that those times of creativity, of questioning things and believing in art were somehow fused in his being.  I share some of his work.

This image he calls “Dunes”.  Like some of his other images it has a touch of the dream.  It is also well composed, with a fine colour sense.

The composition of this image “City” radiates from its compelling centre.  I don’t recognise the cityscape.  It might have been in the United States.

In this playful image collage of his partner, he  captures her moods.

Again, the dream-like quality in the “Sandton Tower”.

The appeal for me here in “City” is the strata of colour with the fading city at the centre.

A well-composed image “Clouds” that has for me the feel of a baroque roof mural.

This image “Lagoon in moonlight” has a brooding.  The texture itself has an unreal feeling, bordering on sepia abstraction..

This tribute “Zebra” has a glow about it.  The photogenic quality that zebras have also helps.

“Me and my Cat” is an imaginative selfie, bordering on abstraction.

(c) Will van der Walt

http://www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

July, 2018

 

Images

Photography by Eric McKeown (copyright) 

 

With thanks to Eric, for permission to display the images 

Empire State in New York

Seo Byong Ho – potter-sculptor

It was one of the friendships in South Korea that I will continue to cherish.  Seo Byong Ho is one of the leading potters in his country and at the time I knew him he chaired the organization of international potters, having exhibitions in China, Japan and Indonesia.  I taught his six-year-old daughter at the local academy and was invited to see his studio.  That was beginning of our rich and fascinating friendship.

His work was very diverse, from traditional forms to personal statements, especially in the realm of images that portray birth.

He and his family are third-generation Catholics, but he spoke of the importance of Buddhism in his life, especially in terms of forms of pottery and the designs.  I found that inspiring.

He won prizes for his work, but was an unusually modest person.  He told me that he was the black sheep of his family and his brothers were executives in the Hyundai empire.

Seo Byong Ho

I gave him English lessons, but I learnt more about Korean culture than he learnt English.  My contact with him has become more infrequent, probably because his English has kind of disappeared.

 

These two plates by Byong Ho have a prized place in my lounge in Somerset West.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

July, 2018

 

Images

My photographs

 

 

 

 

 

Café de Flore

This café is one of the oldest coffee bars in Paris, a place where I — alas — only peeped into.  The clientele are highly esteemed in the history of the Left Bank of the Seine.  My focus is on three of them:  Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus.

Over these tables in the smoke of cigarettes and a pipe, these three people urged Western thinking into new directions, giving philosophy a new hat :  Sartre with existentialism ; De Beauvoir with feminism and Camus with absurdism.

Sartre and de Beauvoir

In the Second World War Sartre and de Beauvoir were on the fringes of the French Resistance, while Camus wrote regularly for Combat, the underground newspaper of the Resistance.  In these years De Beauvoir made her notes towards The Second Sex; Camus’ literary work The Outsider and the philosophical treatise Sisyphus would earn him the Nobel prize.  It has been said by some that Sartre’s Being and Nothingness may be the most influential of its kind in our time.

In Café de Flore the test flights were done.  Coffee was cheap, but pipe tobacco, Sartre discovered, was expensive.  Thus, before the discussions, he would crawl on hands and knees under the tables picking up abandoned cigarette butts for the left-over tobacco.   Then, through the curtain of smoke, he could plough up  the history of ideas.

 

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

July, 2018

 

Sources

Wikipedia : Café de Flore, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Camus

 

Images

cookism.fr

fairecouple.fr

amiericanmagazine.org

my drawing

 

 

 

 

 

ANTOINE DE MAXIMY

Is he a journalist ?  Is he an anthropologist ?  Is he a diplomat?  It’s difficult to pin down this quicksilver personality.

Antoine de Maximy has made television programmes all over the world.  He is particularly interested in the ordinary, often unglamorous people.  He rides on a sort of motorbike with a sidecar and talks to a gadget that films him as he goes through street or landscape.

The list of countries he has visited is bewildering — Chile, Holland, Namibia, Croasia, to mention but four from the dozens.  Most of the time, on the street, he gets on well with the locals, though there are some exceptions, an aspect which lifts out the cinema vérité of his work.

The signature moment in these programmes is his question:  May I sleep at your house tonight?   Mostly, people say yes, be it an apartment in New York or a grass hut in the bushes of Malawi.  In the morning when he leaves you get the feeling that solid friendships have been cemented.

There must be money for a programme like this and I suspect that he has a camera team eventhough he appears to be solitary.

It is the daring, the relentless curiosity, the patience and the engaging ability to make people from remote cultures laugh with you that make this programme memorable.

He is an intriguing personality, quirky and offhand.  His interest in and yes, love for, all people shine through.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

July, 2018

 

Source

France TV

 

Images

Rfi.fr

Colemaison.fr

Ledauphine.com

 

For Claudie – what we enjoy together

Shadow over France

It is with some difficulty and ambivalence that I take on a subject like this one.  Tourne la page, the French may say.  Get over it.  But it is more than curiosity.  We need to remember, if not memorialise, so we can lessen what is still happening in the world in various forms as we speak.  It deals with the Occupation of France during the Second World War, the collaboration with the Germans and the subsequent retribution.

The statistics are somber.  France is known to have collaborated with the Germans more than any other country, with the exception of Hungary.  76,000 Jews were deported and of that number 2,500 survived the death camps.  In June of 1944, even before the Germans were finally expelled from French soil in August of that year, 120,000 people were being named as collaborators to be punished.

The departure of the Germans ushers in a dark period in French history, comparative perhaps to the Great Terror of the French Revolution in the 1790s.

There were two periods in the restitution.  One was called “the wild period” in which summary executions, by individuals and groups, in private and publically, were carried out.  Women, suspected or known to be have been intimate with German soldiers, were publically humiliated.

General de Gaulle put an end to this and the process was handled by courts.  Between 1944 and 1951, a total of 6,762 people were sentenced to death by the official courts.  Of this number 791 were actually executed.  The two leaders of the Vichy government, Pétain and Laval, were tried.  Pétain was pardoned by De Gaulle and received a life sentence.  But Laval was executed by firing squad in 1945.

Ian Ousby, historian of the Occupation, says that one of the greatest tragedies of the Occupation was the division of the French, with collaborators carrying out atrocities.  In this regard, the French Resistance were not idle, either.

In Antibes, less than three weeks after the liberation of the town on 24th August, 1944, in the so-called “wild period”, ten suspected collaborators were summarily executed at Fort Carré.  Some say we should understand this event in its historical context.  Others feel it to be the great shame in the modern history of this town.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

July, 2018

Sources

The Vintage News on the internet

Ian Ousby: Occupation  The Ordeal of France (Pimlico. 1999) 

Images

My drawings

See as well

Archives, French Resistance 1943 – 1944, 28/05/2017

 

ENEMY

The last shots ceased. The enemy disappeared across the border. We found the collaborators, shaved their heads before jeering crowds.  I took the worst of them to that forest and shot them.  Now, I ask the mirror, What am I doing this side of the border?  I am the enemy.

France

Flash saga publ by Rockcloud Publishers

 

 

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