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02 April 2010


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frank durkee

Love it.

The Twisted Genius


Do you think the al-Hakim and al-Sadr blocks could successfully form a government with Allawi? They both appear to leaving open that possibillity. By successful I mean without a massive military/police crackdown by al-Maliki.

BTW, you have ignited a personal interest in Rothko abstracts. Thanks.

Patrick Lang


I find Rothko compelling. pl

frank durkee

The Godmother of my daughter, who knew Rothko, commented to me once when I was talking about his paintings, that "he was a mystic". Clearly for some of us he touches something very deep and powerful with in.

different clue

I have never seen an actual Rothko up close and personal. From these reproductions I can get a sense of how hard Rothko worked on these paintings, and I can sense that there is something there to be gotten, but I find myself unable to "get it". I consider that an admission rather than a boast, however.

A set of artworks I find personally compelling are Alexander Calder's mobiles, for whatever that may say about how my mind works. Perhaps I am just projecting my own thoughtfeelings or sensibility onto them.

Patrick Lang


When you meet one, I suggest that you stand a yard away from it for a while. That is what he wanted. pl


"Maliki should think this over carefully." That's asking a lot of him, isn't it, Colonel?

R Whitman

I will probably go to a service at Rothko Chapel in Houston during the next several weeks.

Col Lang, what is your assesment of the probability of a coup, military or otherwise, in Iraq as soon as the US leaves. Back to dictatorship.

Patrick Lang


It is possible that Iraq may find a way back to the level of representative democracy that it had under the Hashemite monarchy, but that is only one possibility. Another is that the country's sectarian politicians will drag the political process down to a point where the emergence of a dictator becomes inevitable. pl

different clue

I have trouble imagining Maliki entering into a coalition with the Alawi list. Maliki and his list-mates are all too much Iranists in their hearts to accept a trans-sectarian Iraq. They may also fear any non-Iranist Arab presence in government to be a first step to re-imposing Sunni Bathi rule over them. (I don't think the Alawi list-folks would use their government presence that way myself).

I can't imagine Alawi entering a coalition with a partner who persecutes and threatens some of his co-elected list-mates. A good boss takes care of his people and I can't imagine Alawi violating the code of two-way loyalty.

So I still imagine Alawi working with the Sadr Group and maybe that little Kurdish good government party to block and deny Maliki. If Alawi's blocking bloc can delay Maliki long enough, the Alawi-Sadr alliance may win over the big non-Talabani Kurdish party.

If Maliki won't give in to all that, then I suppose Maliki will set off the Civil War resumption he would rather have.

These are just my totally uninformed personal imaginings, to be sure.

If I ever meet a Rothko, I will stand a yard away from it; as you suggest. ( I will also advance and retreat from it some and walk back and forth as well...to see if that helps me).

Sidney O. Smith III

R Whitman

Please let us know about your service at the Rothko chapel. No one appreciates Rothko more than I. In fact, awhile back, Col. Lang was kind enough to post an essay I wrote on Rothko.


I sure would like to read anything you wrote…under your full name, of course. No reason to be bashful when revealing your artistic predispositions.

Something to remember, particularly when comparing Rabbi Teitelbaum to Rothko. Mystics do not commit suicide. Never. Those who want to become mystics but, for whatever reason, don’t make it, do commit suicide. Even tragic heroes.

Ain’t you a lawyer?

R Whitman

Sidney O Smith III

I am not R Whitman the lawyer, thats a cousin. I am by education, a chemist and am long retired from the technical instrumentation business. No publications. Any technical pubs under the name R Whitman are from another cousin.

I have attended functions at the Rothko chapel a number of times, the last, a memorial service for a locally well known friend.

Rothko Chapel is used for many functions. For example the local NPR station mentioned that some author was speaking and would have a book signing this week.

Personally, I do not "get" Rabbi Teitelbaum. To me he comes across as just another Politico-Religious figure selling an idea.

The Twisted Genius


I happened to be in downtown DC this morning, so I took in the Rothko exhibition at the National Gallery of Art. This exhibition focused on his black paintings from 1964. I have to admit this was an overwhelming introduction to Rothko... definitely a leap into a dark abyss. As you suggested I took each painting in from a yard away to study the varied hues and textures before moving further away. As I left the exhibit, I felt the emotion of the paintings. Either that or my aging eyesight was inducing vertigo.

For those in the DC area, I recommend this exhibition. In addition to the 1964 series of black on black, there is a collection of his earlier works where Rothko prominantly used black. It will be the tower of the East Gallery for the rest of the year.

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