bacchanal

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come to a little gathering!

An occasion to have an occasion, celebrate just coming together around food, reading, books, wine, friends, new friends. 


If you can come, please contribute $25 so we can feed you, a bottle of something to drink and/or share, and a page of writing (either your own or not) to informally read at some point in the night. It can even be a fortune cookie fortune. 


We hope to see you around the table! Please RSVP if you’re unable to purchase tickets online and would rather pay cash. Buy tickets here. ​First 20 people for the first le bacchanal! ​​Invite! Come! ​

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Peter Paul Rubens

Drunken Silenus

Netherlands (1616)

Oil on wood, 212 x 214.5 cm.

Alte Pinakothek, Munich.

I think we all need to take a moment to appreciate just how INCREDIBLY upset this painting and Ruben’s apparent love for it have made the curator at wga.hu:

In Greek mythology Silenus is a rural god, one of the retinue of Bacchus, a gay, fat old drunkard who was yet wise and had the gift of prophecy.

In Rubens’ painting he is shown drunkenly tottering, his belly swollen with meat and drink, and supported by a disparate collection of dotards, drunkards, blacks, children and young women. The careless inebriation of this bacchanal is expressed by a thicker touch that conveys the unwieldy weight of the drinkers’ gait.

The composition was originally conceived with half-length figures, but was later enlarged by Rubens himself. The painting hung in Rubens’ house.

Ha ha ha ha ha…my goodness. There is only a single Black man in this painting, but perhaps the incredible force with which he is pinching Silenus’s “gay, fat old drunk[ard]” ass* is enough to chagrin this curator into thinking there must be somehow more than one?

Apparently the thought of Rubens staring at this piece and smiling every morning while eating his breakfast sausage was just too much for some people.

As you may have noticed by now, Rubens adored drawing and painting Black people and included them in many, many of his paintings, as well as having done studies, portraits, sketches, and other works of art used for his workshop and apprentices. Many of his works he kept for himself in his personal collection.

*The pinch is actually an important part of the original story: Silenus is awakened from a drunken stupor and bound with his own garlands by nymphs and satyrs and made to sing a song of creation and the forces of nature for an important ceremonial dance.

The bacchanal

“It was heart-shaking. Glorious. Torches, dizziness, singing. Wolves howling around us and a bull bellowing in the dark. The river ran white. It was like a film in fast motion, the moon waxing and waning, clouds rushing across the sky. Vines grew from the ground so fast they twined up the trees like snakes; seasons passing in the wink of an eye, entire years for all I know…I mean we think of phenomenal change as being the very essence of time, when it’s not at all. Time is something which defies spring and winter, birth and decay, the good and the bad, indifferently. Something changeless and joyous and absolutely indestructible. Duality ceases to exist; there is no ego, no “I”…as if the universe expands to fill the boundary of the self.” 

-The Secret History