Category Archives: artists

Laughter in the Rain

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Women 13

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Women (13)

They’re laughing in the rain. After looking at this picture a while, I thought – there must be a story here. But I don’t know what it is.

What drew my eye in the first place? The unexpected. Looking at the background I would have expected something more formal, more formulaic, flatter.

Instead the women in it have a sense of mischief, of movement, of brightness. I see it in the way they stand, how they look at each other, the clothes they wear. It’s in the unexpectedness of their bare feet, their laughter in the rain. It’s in the way their kimonos, lifted or blown, expose bare legs and red undergarments.

And then there are the differences between them. The young woman in the middle wears a bright, ornately patterned kimono, though I can only guess at the details of the images on it. Body elegantly arced, feet facing one of her companions, face the other, shoulders toward us – she includes everyone in her movement, even us.

Contrast that with the others. They wear kimonos more modest in design, more everyday, more informal. They are looking at their brightly dressed companion, bodies turned toward her, framing her for us, guiding our eyes back to her. She seems the center of their attention.

Where are they coming from, where are they going, these barefoot women clutching their umbrellas in the grey rain?

And who created this picture? The artist is Utagawa Kuniyoshi, a 19th century Japanese master of print-making. He was best known for creating pictures of Japan’s historic and legendary heroes and brigands, and for including dreams, apparitions and heroic feats in his images. But he also worked actively in other genres, creating prints like this one.

There is a name for the kind of art he created: floating world art, or ukiyo-e in Japanese. It was art that was meant to reflect moments in time, in a time and place far from the cares of the everyday world. It was an art for dreaming on, full of beauty and mythical heroes and popular entertainments.

And it was art that was meant for a wide audience, for people who had not been buyers of art before. Because the pictures were produced in large quantities as woodblock prints so they were less expensive than a single original work, more affordable to the then-growing merchant class.

But success and sales, then as now, depended on an artist building a group of supporters who love his work. It took Kuniyoshi time to develop his own style, then to become popular and well-known. And as he developed he was influenced not just by his Japanese teachers and fellow artists but by the Dutch and German engravings of western art he collected, by the way they were composed and the light and shadow effects used in them.

So there is more than one story behind this image – there is the story of the artist himself, and of the time he lived in. Those we can learn a little bit about.

We can see how he learned from other artists, studying one their work even when he was separated from them by time and place. We can catch a glimpse of what it was like for him, working in his own time and place, under an authoritarian regime, for a particular audience.

But – I still don’t know the story of the women laughing in the rain. I guess I’ll have to imagine it myself.

And really, isn’t that one of the things art should do? Waken curiosity and imagination?

Thought and Imagination

Walter Smolarek, Abstract 100

Walter Smolarek, Abstract 100

For some reason this painting touches me. Perhaps it’s the colors, iridescent and luminous. Perhaps it’s the sharp break between background and foreground, like the breaks between different times, different states, different ways of living. Perhaps it’s the roundness of spheres, containing what? Possibilities? Perhaps it’s the sense of quiet movement.

The background moves from a blue-grey misty softness through the colours of a foggy sunrise to light. Over it a dark mark hovers, sharp and angular and broken, rough edges driving outward, darkness smattering into the background. In front, as if they were coming toward us, luminous spheres hover and glow, delicate as bubbles. Their colours lie lightly on them; the ones at the top hold the most darkness.

The curves of the spheres contrast with the straight marks behind, their luminous quality with its darkness, their softness with its strength. It’s as if a world of beauty is bubbling out through the darkness.

In one sense, all art is abstract – even what looks most realistic is only an illusion, an abstraction from reality. After all you can’t reproduce the real world on a flat canvas.

But this is abstracted from a world of thought and imagination.  Which made me wonder: what kind of imagination? What kind of person created this? And why this?

When I went exploring, this is what I learned:

Waldemar Smolarek was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1937. During World War II his family was separated by the occupying Germans, and his father died just before the end of the war. Then times were hard, the family was poor and he had to become independent and self-supporting as soon as he could.

He became interested in and studied metalwork and painting, and by 1958 he was taking part in unauthorized exhibitions at the Barbican (Barbakan) in Warsaw. Through them he became friends with many other independent artists, and his circle of friends and acquaintances was wide.

And since the Barbican was a place to which foreign visitors came his work was seen and appreciated by many from the West. He was invited to exhibit his paintings in Italy, Sweden, Austria and the U.S.

With his reputation growing and life in Warsaw becoming more repressive he left Poland illegally and made his way to Sweden. There he developed more friendships with artists and within the Jewish community, but he wanted to be as far away from Poland as possible. So he left for Canada, going to Vancouver, where he continued to work and to exhibit internationally.

Waldemar Smolarek was a quiet, solitary man who channelled everything into creating his art. He sold a few of his paintings, donated some to charitable causes and kept many for himself; and when he passed away peacefully in 2010 he died surrounded by those paintings.

Quiet and solitary and brave. To work abstractly takes both courage and faith: courage to strike out into the world of imagination and faith that others will take the time to contemplate and understand.

Now I think of him working, thinking, crafting the images he shared.  And you – now that you know more about the man, how do you see this painting?

(Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike 3.0 Unported License)

Looking Slowly, Watching “Rising”

Zhang Huang, Rising - photo by R. Mair

Zhang Huan, Rising – photo by R. Mair

On visits to Toronto I watched this sculpture as it changed from simpler elements to complex combinations of shape and surface.  We would walk along University Avenue, already rich in public art, and pass this new and very different piece.

At first it looked like twisting, thrusting vines, or like the limbs of some great sinuous, headless creature rising and bowing and bending.  Then it began to sprout birds.  And then the birds were flying up the building.

It fascinated me.  It was something that I wanted to stop and look at, to walk around and see from different perspectives.  I wanted to, but I didn’t have time.  Now I’m waiting till I go back again to take another look – or several.  I want to see it in different light, at different times.

Zhang Huang, Rising, photo by R. Mair

Zhang Huan, Rising, photo by R. Mair

Because even though I’m not there it still stays with me. There is the sinewy underlying shape. It touches the ground, rests in the water, reaches up toward the sky. The vines/limbs contort like muscles working, twist and curve. They are more strong than peaceful, nature demanding attention.

They are also a strong, supple support. The birds rest and preen on them, land and take off and fly away upward. Their wings are multi-faceted and gleaming, reflecting the light, reinforcing a sense of business and activity. They want to fly away, and yet they can’t – the vine underneath and the building above must support them. They are, in the end, as earthbound as we are.

Zhang Huang, Rising, photo by R. Mair
Zhang Huan, Rising, photo by R. Mair

Birds and branches respond to the light. Sunlight moves across and reflects off the multiple surfaces. They change with the light around them, reflecting bright sun or cloudy skies or the gleam of lights at night. And the sculpture itself is reflected by the water beneath it.

It was created by Shanghai artist Zhang Huan, as a commission for the developers of Living Shangri-La, Toronto. Almost complete, it was officially unveiled last May (2012) after an incense burning ceremony and a poetry reading by the artist. The stainless steel sculpture is called “Rising”; the birds are peace pigeons and the twisted branches are designed to resemble the body of a dragon. According to a press release on Marketwire it represents the artist’s wish for a beautiful city life to be shared by man and nature.

I know that, like me, many people walk past it, sitting as it does beside a busy sidewalk. I wonder how many stop to really look at this sculpture, and wonder what lies behind it? Or do they walk past without looking, or glance and mean to stop one day?

Browsing through some of my favorite art blogs I came across a phrase that described what this piece needs: “slow looking”. When I read that I knew that was the phrase I’d been looking for. Slow looking – savoring what you’re looking at. Taking time. Exploring with your eyes, opening your mind and letting it wonder – and wander.

It’s a wonderful way to look at art. Or at life.

Wishing you all time to enjoy some slow looking…


I wanted to explore the idea of slow looking, so I put the phrase into my favorite search engine. I found Peter Clothier, who encourages and demonstrates a combination of meditation, engagement and contemplation that allows you to explore every part of a painting as well as the painting as a whole, just as it is. He encourages everyone to see art in a way that is completely their own.

And I found out that there’s a Slow Art Day, on which groups of people are encouraged to get together and look at five works of art for ten minutes each. Ten minutes is longer than most of us spend in front of a painting! This year (2013) Slow Art Day is April 27th.

Or you could do what I try to every now and then, give yourself the gift of time and use it to immerse yourself in a work of art. You’ll be amazed at what you find.

Stormy Times


Francisco Goya (Francisco de Goya y Lucientes), Winter

February has been a very stormy month, here and elsewhere. The storms have rolled through, coming up from south of us or in off the sea. I’m glad I can watch them pass from the safety of our apartment, while our boat sits – safe too, but rocked by the waves and wind – at a dock not too far away.

And I think about the fact that the same storm can feel completely different to different people. So much depends on where you are and what resources you have. I’ve experienced bad storms tucked safely away inside a sturdy building. I’ve also experienced them out at sea in our sailboat, surrounded by the noise and turmoil of waves and wind.

Goya, too, knew how different the same storm could feel to different people. And he wanted other people to know. That’s why his picture of Winter is not of some beautiful, snow-filled landscape but of people struggling through a winter storm.

You can tell how cold it is. Three of the men huddle together as they walk, blankets or shawls wrapped tightly around their heads and their thin coats. Their heads are down, their arms wrapped around themselves, their faces grim. You can see snow on their clothes, on their leggings; you can almost see them shiver. The poor dog beside them, tail between his legs, looks as if it would rather be somewhere else, somewhere warm and out of the wind.

These three men are empty-handed, returning home with nothing to show for all their work.  No wonder they look so grim and tired.

The other two walk independently. They are dressed more warmly: one has his head covered with a hood of the same material as his coat; the other has tied his hat on so that it shelters his face from the wind-driven snow. They have been hunting, and their hunt has been successful – one has a gun, the other leads a pack animal, a horse or a mule, with the carcass of a pig tied across it’s back. Wherever they are going these men will be well fed, and probably warm.

The painting is a sketch painted by Goya, the design for a tapestry to hang in the dining-room of the Pardo palace near Madrid in Spain. It’s one of a series of four depicting the seasons. So there is a third layer here – those who gazed at the stormy cold of the tapestry would be warm and comfortable themselves.

And people would gaze at it; Goya has made it beautiful. No doubt he hoped at least some would see beyond its beauty, beyond the richness of the colors and the skillful use of technique, to the differences between these two groups caught out in the storm. Maybe they would compare what they saw with their own lives.

Because Goya himself saw these things.  In many ways he was unusual, a tempestuous man who lived in stormy times, though his life started conventionally enough. Born in Spain in 1746, he spent his early years in Fuendetodos before his family moved to Zaragoza, where he began to study art at fourteen. From there he moved to Madrid to study more, then spent time in Rome before returning to Spain and to Zaragoza.

Despite his talent and growing skill, he found it hard to find work as an artist when he came back. Then he became part of the Bayeu family when he married Josefa, sister to the artists Francisco and Ramon. Her brothers were working at the Spanish court, and through them Goya was offered work painting designs for tapestries for two newly-built royal palaces. He went on to be a court painter and to paint for the nobility – though he broke from the courtly tradition by painting portraits of people as they were, not as they wished to be seen.

His later work was touched by an illness that left him deaf, less communicative and more introspective, and his fortunes fluctuated with changes at the court and the effects of wars and revolution, particularly the war between France and Spain. In his later work there’s anger, a sense of pain and despair, and a recognition of the ironies in life.

Because through it all he continued to work, to share his thoughts about difficult things and tragic events in stark and beautiful paintings and dark prints. Beauty has its limitations, though. Some of his paintings and drawings I find very difficult to look at. The horror overpowers the beauty.

But not the compassion. He understood that the storms of life can blow most cruelly when we are least equipped to deal with them.

A compassion we all should share.

Winter Tales with Monet

It’s the middle of January, and the middle of one of those blasts of winter that make you remember why you love summer so much.  There doesn’t seem much to say about this – after all snow and blasts of cold air will come in their season.

I suppose that I could spend my time longing for summer, dreaming about warmth and long sunny days.

Or I could find my comfort somewhere else.  Perhaps in Monet’s paintings, which are so beautiful they could make a person love winter. At least for a while.

Thank you, Feishtica.

Because Death is Part of Life…

Albert Anker, Ruedi Anker, 1869

Albert Anker, Ruedi Anker, 1869

Death comes to visit in many different ways.

Sometimes the loss is heartbreaking, a child gone too soon, a young person whose life abruptly ends, a parent lost to a young family.

Sometimes it feels as if we should have been prepared, knowing that illness or age would soon bring an end to life.

Sometimes, especially as we grow older, we catch a glimpse of our own deaths in each loss.

Recently my family lost some of our elders. They are a generation rapidly diminishing, and one which, through their lives and thoughts, helped shape the people we are now. They were ready to let go of life, but we found ourselves not ready to let go of them.

Artists have frequently dwelt on the horrors of death – death in war, death from terrible illness, murder. The true horror for most of us is the sense of loss we feel, a sense which echoes and re-echoes with each going. And yet there are artists and writers who offer comfort by sharing a different vision, by creating beautiful images that lead us to take another look.

One that stays with me is the one above, the painting that Albert Anker created of his young son Ruedi, resting so peacefully in death. There is love in the beauty of it, and in the care with which it was painted.

And these words that Kahlil Gibran wrote in “The Prophet” are beautiful in their own way, an almost intoxicating description of death:

“For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?”

For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.”

In life there is always death. Both are part of the cycles of nature. As each year passes we see death and rebirth; Winter strips the leaves of trees and browns the grasses, sends animals and birds into hiding, freezes water into stillness. Then out of Winter comes Spring; we see the natural world return to life again, see new leaves and blossoms and fresh shoots of grass and young creatures born.

Dark follows light follows dark. Each day ends, and after sunset comes the night. We create pools of light to keep the dark away – yet it is still there and all the light we create cannot banish it completely. Then after the night comes the sunrise, and light stronger than we can make returns.

There are cycles in nature, of light and dark, death and birth. Though individuals go, the whole lives on. And the lives of those we have loved live on in us, in our thoughts and in our hearts.

More Than Meets the Eye

Sundial, from Meantime in Greenwich by David Clark

Sundial from Meantime in Greenwich by David Clark, photo by R. Mair

A simple sundial might catch your eye as you walk through Sir Sandford Fleming Park in Halifax. A closer look and you see that it is part of a public art project by David Clark called “Meantime in Greenwich”. Look around and you might see another one close by. Walk further and you’ll likely find more.

There is a particular reason that you’ll find them in this park. This is where Sir Sandford Fleming, the man who shepherded the idea of standard time through to its adoption around the world, lived and died. It is thanks to him that we now have time zones to help us adjust to the changes in the timing of day and night as we travel around the world.

So there are twenty-four of these sundials, twenty-four for the twenty-four time zones around the world. Each of them has a different title and a different theme. Each sundial face has a different picture on it, a different muted image merging into its circular background.

A few:

New York Times, Meantime in Greenwich, by David Clark

New York Times from Meantime in Greenwich by David Clark, photo by R. Mair

There’s New York Times, bringing together the city of New York (image in the background), the New York Times (the type of its masthead, the journalist’s typewriter, the anonymous face hidden by hood and dark glasses), and the idea of time (the pocket watch).

Hard Time, from Meantime in Greenwich by David Clark, photo by R. Mair

Hard Time from Meantime in Greenwich by David Clark, photo by R. Mair

There’s Hard Time, this pocket watch containing an image of a barred door/gate with its lock, suggesting the barred door of a jail cell. In the background the image suggests rough seas.

Real Time, from Meantime in Greenwich by David Clark, Photo by R. Mair

Real Time from Meantime in Greenwich by David Clark, Photo by R. Mair

There’s Real Time, with its old time television set with the number 24 on its screen and in the background the soft images of lights, action, camera… Incongruously, the 24 looks like the numbers on the screen of a digital clock, linking us again to the idea of time and of the present and of each day’s 24 hours.

Time and Time Again from Meantime in Greenwich by David Clark, Photo by R. Mair

Time and Time Again from Meantime in Greenwich by David Clark, Photo by R. Mair

There’s Time and Time Again, with white clock hands against a black Hitchcock silhouette within the confines of yet another pocket watch and the snake (or ourobouros) swallowing its own tail, its body circling within the watch frame as our lives are lived within the circling hours. Among other images in the background we can see the words “Outright terror… Bold and Brilliant”.

Time's Up from Meantime in Greenwich by David Clark, Photo by R. Mair

Time’s Up from Meantime in Greenwich by David Clark, photo by R. Mair

And of course it ends with Time’s Up, with a satellite within a group of circling objects, a diagram of satellites circling the globe. GPS satellites circling above the earth, using time to figure out where each GPS user on earth is.

There’s more to this set of sundials than meets the eye. As I learned when listening to an interview with David Clark on CBC Radio, this public art installation is meant to be listened to as well as looked at. Meantime in Greenwich has its own website/page, from which you can download twenty-four mp3 files, one for each sundial. None of the files is much longer than two minutes; each one takes what you see and expands on it. They contain an interesting mixture of ideas, stories, historical nuggets, facts about time, and riffs on different ideas and words related to and expanding on the images on the sundials. Characters and ideas recur, tying the spoken pieces together.

The sundials themselves invite you to examine them – the more you look the more you see. The spoken words delve further into the idea behind the installation as a whole, and the particular idea behind each sundial. They tease the thoughts, widen the ideas and invite exploration.

There is another component, but this one, sadly, I cannot comment on. An iPhone app, also downloadable from the website, is designed to allow iPhone users to experience ‘virtual sculptures’ when they point their phone at each sundial. An interesting idea, but one not easily available to those who have other smart phones – or do not have a smart phone at all.

Of course, many who come across the sundials will only see what meets the eye….

Which is interesting enough – but I wish that everyone could enjoy the complete experience.


For more information about David Clark, click here to visit his website.

Sundial from Meantime in Greenwich by David Clark, Photo by R. Mair

Sundial from Meantime in Greenwich by David Clark, Photo by R. Mair

A Lover of Light

Charles Henry Gifford, Coastal Sunset

Charles Henry Gifford, Coastal Sunset

Summer is the season of sun and light and longer days.  Artists are all aware of light, but some love it.  You can see it in their paintings. Charles Henry Gifford was a lover of light, and of sailing ships and the sea.

He was not supposed to be an artist. He was apprenticed to be a ship’s carpenter, like his father and brother. But he fell in love with the art he saw in his hometown of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and became determined to learn to paint pictures like the ones he saw.

Influenced by the paintings of artists like Bierstadt he taught himself to produce the effects he loved in their work in his own. With very little in the way of formal training, he developed his own style.

He worked hard and consistently to develop his abilities (and his market). He spent time studying the work of others and developing his own hand and eye. He challenged himself to work in new ways, or accepted the challenges of others. Best known for his small oils paintings, he decided to create large ones when critics suggested that small paintings were what he did best. He learned to work in watercolors; he accepted a variety of commissions.

You can see the results of his study and his work in paintings like this one of a glowing coastal sunset.

It is full of luminous color. Oranges predominate; many shades of orange kissed with yellows and reds and shades of green.

The sky is filled with clouds, their swirls traced by the light. The waves glow in the sunset. It shines on and through them. The arch of a breaking wave is caught, detailed, the light flowing through it, the foam glinting along it, small sprays of foam arcing into the air. Light lingers on wet rocks along the shore.

Ships’ sails stand tall against the sky, reflecting the colours of sunset, their vertical lines taking the eye up. Hulls begin to blend into the shadows in the fading light, lying along the horizontal surface of the sea and blending into it. The changing sizes of the vessels create a sense of distance and lead our eyes toward the line of the horizon. The clouds curve overhead, coming toward us, arcing over the shore, bringing with them an echo of the line of sunlight that lies along the sea.

The horizon is low, the sea’s surface foreshortened, the sky overhead vast. The setting sun, glimpsed through the cloud, draws our focus to the middle of the painting. Where it illuminates the scene we see details of ships and sea and rocks and clouds. As we follow those details outward, we see clouds and ships and the shape and energy of breaking waves along the shore. Framing it all is the hazy darkness of the coming dusk, where sea, sky, ships and shore fade into shadow.

We are drawn into the scene, drawn in not just by what we see but by the sense that he was painting what he loved, as truly as he knew how.

And because he loved this light we can love it too.

In the Light of Knowledge

Joseph Wright of Derby, Sunset on the Coast near Naples, 1785

Joseph Wright of Derby, Sunset on the Coast near Naples

Artists have always been fascinated by light. Joseph Wright of Derby became famous for his ability to recreate the effects of light, illuminating faces and figures and scenes in a way that brought drama and interest to the subjects that he painted.

He is best known for his paintings of scenes such as The Orrery (“A Philosopher Giving that Lecture on the Orrery in which a Lamp is put in place of the Sun” to give it its full title), and “An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump”.

Joseph Wright of Derby, The Orrery

Joseph Wright of Derby, The Orrery

These paintings of scientific demonstrations are full of light and shadow and detail and drama. They show his interest in science and his keen observation of people and their reactions to what they saw.

It took a while for him to move past the relative intimacy of such scenes to the play of light and shadow on the larger landscape around him. An eruption of Vesuvius that he witnessed seemed to awake a sense of nature’s drama and the desire to paint it. Naturally he was drawn to the light.

You can see that in his sunset painting above.

The first thing you see is the light. Luminous, beautiful colours in the distance, framed by the darkness of the coming night, by the front-lit clouds lowering over the hills, by the sun lingering on hills and jutting points of land, and by coastal rocks just touched by the sunset light. The sun has already withdrawn its light from the rocky slope closest to you, and its darkness emphasizes the light over the sea.

Afterward you become aware of the scale and depth of the scene. You notice how far off the horizon seems, how close the rocky bluff. As you see more and more of the detail – trees on the distant ridge, a sailboat by the point, another boat far off in the distance, animals on the ridge closest to you – you see how small the living creatures are. They are dwarfed by the land, sea and sky that surround them.

And you wonder what he thought – did he contemplate the contradiction between the scientific advances of his time, the sense of growing knowledge that fed the idea of controlling the natural world, and the perception that we are, in the end, small and powerless in the face of the forces of nature?


You can see more of his work in this video from  laoniricArte1 

To Know or To Believe

Giuseppe Bertini, fresco of Galileo Galilei and the Doge of Venice

Giuseppe Bertini, fresco of Galileo Galilei and the Doge of Venice

It’s an old struggle.

New things are learned, most often, when something we take for granted is seen with fresh eyes, and observed, recorded, analyzed, and understood in new ways. At first the instruments used are crude and the analysis is inexact. Over time growing knowledge, good workmanship and creativity come together to create new instruments and foster new, more accurate observations which lead to new ways to understand what is observed. Each step builds on the ones before. Mistakes are made and corrected. Knowledge grows.

The next step is sharing the new understanding, the new knowledge – and that can be dangerous. What is newly understood is not always accepted, no matter how rigorous the methods of exploration or how clear the explanation.

Galileo certainly learned this. As he developed the knowledge of the skies and the bodies that move through it that we now rely on, he was aware that what he was learning contradicted the teaching of the church of his time. For a long time he was careful to conceal what he knew, but he did share much of what it was based on. He taught, he published books, he created a better telescope which he presented and demonstrated to the Venetian senate.

It was that telescope that allowed him to see the moon and other stars and planets in the night sky. He observed them, considered, weighed what he observed and calculated against his own ideas and the theories of his time.

He saw that the theory that best explained his observations was the Copernican theory, a dangerous one to choose. He waited, keeping his thoughts to himself until he felt that he could present them with the least risk – but he miscalculated. The Roman Catholic church was tremendously powerful, and considered what he observed and understood to be heresy because it contradicted the official teachings of the church.

In this beautiful fresco by Guiseppe Bertini, Galileo demonstrates his new, improved telescope to the Doge of Venice. The Doge (chosen as leader by the most powerful families in Venice) is richly and ceremonially dressed. He peers intently through the telescope Galileo has created, looking out through the window and over the water. Galileo hovers, watching the Doge and holding the base of the telescope securely on the table. A globe sits on the floor by the table, a diagram is propped against the wall.

Galileo is framed against the translucent glass of a window. In the background others hover. There are representatives of the church in their red robes and white collars and representatives of the nobility, fashionably dressed. Most look sceptical, somewhat uncomfortable. You can sense the doubt and worry and the likelihood of trouble. To contradict the beliefs set out by the church was to face the possibility of prison or death.  In the end Galileo was sentenced to prison for sharing his knowledge, though he was allowed to serve his sentence as house arrest.

It’s a picture of the struggle between what is accepted and what is newly learned.

A struggle that seems to be part of human nature.