Poetry Month Challenges Day 20: Quirk and Quality

Quirk in Quality by Maria L. Berg 2023

I’m really glad I read the A to Z Challenge post about Querying first thing this morning, because for some reason I had skipped over Q in my mind and was planning to write my R post today.

Quirk & Quality

A quirk is a peculiarity of action, behavior, or personality; mannerism. Peculiarity is a trait, manner, characteristic, or habit that is odd or unusual; eccentricity; a distinguishing quality or characteristic. If a quirk is a distinguishing quality, how can it also be quality’s contradiction? Quality is not only: an essential or distinctive characteristic, property, or attribute. It has another meaning: high grade; superiority; excellence; good or high social position; the superiority or distinction associated with high social position. These understandings of quality come from expectations, judgements, and norms and thus contradict peculiarity.

Searching through my books, I didn’t find any uses of the word “quirk” (which bummed me out because I love that word), so I looked for “peculiarity.” I found this interesting passage in Art as Experience by John Dewey:

WHY IS the attempt to connect the higher and ideal things of experience with basic vital roots so often regarded as betrayal of their nature and denial of their value? Why is there repulsion when the high achievements of fine art are brought into connection with common life, the life that we share with all living creatures? Why is life thought of as an affair of low appetite, or at its best a thing of gross sensation, and ready to sink from its best to the level of lust and harsh cruelty? . . . Life is compartmentalized and the institutionalized compartments are classified as high and as low; their values as profane and spiritual, as material and ideal. Interests are related to one another externally and mechanically, through a system of checks and balances. Since religion, morals, politics, business has each its own compartment, within which it is fitting each should remain, art, too, must have its peculiar and private realm. Compartmentalization of occupations and interests brings about separation of that mode of activity commonly called “practice.”

John Dewey

This made me think that understanding expected qualities that define quality, is the only way to appreciate quirks. Peculiarities wouldn’t exist without norms. In Dewey’s examples, the definition of art are the specific peculiarities that separate it from other studies and activities like business and politics.

In Art and Visual Perception by Rudolf Arnheim, peculiarity may be an aspect of weight that influence perception of balance:

Weight depends also on size. Other factors being equal, the larger object will be the heavier. As to color, red is heavier than blue, and bright colors are heavier than dark ones. The patch of a bright red bedcover in Van Gogh’s painting of his bedroom creates a strong off-center weight. A black area must be larger than a white one to counterbalance it; this is due in part to irradiation, which makes a bright surface look relatively larger. Puffer has also found that compositional weight is affected by intrinsic interest. An area of a painting may hold the observer’s attention either because of the subject matter-for example, the spot around the Christ child in an Adoration-or because of its formal complexity, intricacy, or other peculiarity. (Note in this connection the multicolored bouquet of flowers in Manet’s Olympia.) The very tininess of an object may exert a fascination that compensates the slight weight it would otherwise have. Recent experiments have suggested that perception may also be influenced by the observer’s wishes and fears. One could try to ascertain whether pictorial balance is changed by the introduction of a highly desirable object or a frightening one.

Rudolf Arnheim

Today’s Images

What normative quality of expectation can I create to then twist and show a quirk? What is a quirk that I appreciate as having quality? For today’s images I created a normative quality by only using white lights, then for my quirk I used transparency filters which are printable clear plastic printed with my photographs then cut out and used as filters. I placed the transparencies of my brush stroke and paint splatter filters.

Quality in Quirk by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to explore a particular object or place from the point of view of some far-off, future scientist.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write an animal poem.

dVerse Poets Pub

At dVerse it’s Open Link Night, so though I missed the live reading, I’ll link this poem to the list.

The Poem

A Quirky Quality of Life

After the earthquake
after clearing the rubble
and destruction, one
devastating landslide
left a new cliff-face
revealed a new history
in its layers , mysterious
objects jumbled and protruding
in the rock and sediment
hidden for hundreds of years.

We’ve only begun the excavation
but a picture of a quality of life
quite different from our own
emerges from the clustering
of preserved objects and bones.
We believe they were symbiotic
fused with miniature animals
with similarities to our predators
One fused a tiny saber tooth
to her chest and arm
Another was attached at the
calf to a mini dire wolf.

These fusions must have
been their only form of relation
for we’ve found no evidence
of any ability of communication
Not a single implant, or manipulation
not a symbol, sign, or extension
of extra-sensory perception.

We can only hope to discover
their machine, or whatever magic
there must have been to turn
our giant predators into beloved
friends, but we also need to find
what horror made it all end.

Poetry Month Challenges Day 19: Pleasure and Patience

Pleasure in Patience by Maria L. Berg 2023

Pleasure & Patience

Pleasure is the state or feeling of enjoyment or satisfaction derived from what is to one’s liking; gratification; delight. In Civilization and Its Discontents Freud says that “the purpose of life is simply the programme of the pleasure principle.” The pleasure principle is Freud’s belief that man’s activity develops toward the absence of pain and to experience strong feelings of pleasure. He says:

“What we call happiness in the strictest sense comes from the (preferably sudden) satisfaction of needs which have been dammed up to a high degree, and it is from its nature only possible as an episodic phenomenon. When any situation that is desired by the pleasure principle is prolonged, it only produces a feeling of mild contentment. We are so made that we can derive intense enjoyment only from a contrast and very little from a state of things. Thus our possibilities of happiness are already restricted by our constitution.”

Sigmund Freud

In other words, we live for pleasure, but find the most pleasure in things denied us. He also seems to say that patience dampens pleasure’s potency. Patience is an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay; quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence; the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.

Today’s Images

My original idea of using the tri-pod and long exposure to represent patience, and glints of light on the water as pleasure wasn’t working because the sun went behind the clouds and I ran out of patience. I thought I would try to replicate my idea in the mirrorworld using a fan, but my shapes were distorting and the lights were too bright at the long shutter settings, and I lost patience. So I thought of when I have found pleasure in patience, and thought of the panoramic setting: it takes patience to make it work, but the results give me pleasure.

Patience in Pleasure by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to cast your mind back to your own childhood and write a poem about something that scared you – or was used to scare you – and which still haunts you (if only a little bit) today.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a taste poem.

The Poem

The Patient Boogeyman

The present pleasure of dark chocolate peppermint bark
takes patience to savor—not bite into, chomp down,
and grab another— to let it sit with the flavors,
letting them melt in my mouth like the large bag
of M&Ms I used to eat while reading a novel
in the tall antique bed with the small pink
rose patterned canopy, so tall I had to run
and jump to get in, so tall that the scary
man had plenty of room to wait under there
at night until I needed to go to the bathroom;
I would wait and wait, knowing the second
my ankle dangled low enough, his hand would
dart out and grab it, and yank me under;
not that I was afraid of the space under the bed,
I liked it down there during the day,
but the scary man only waited there
when it was dark, really dark and cold,
and came from the place of dark things.
Sometimes in the dead of night,
he still reaches from the darkest corner,
and I want to scream, but instead
I turn on all the lights and savor
some dark chocolate peppermint bark.

Poetry Month Challenges Day 18: Opportunity and Opportunism

Opportunity in Opportunism by Maria L. Berg 2023

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. 

Henry Ford

Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough. 

Abraham Lincoln

Opportunity & Opportunism

An opportunity is a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal; a good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success; an appropriate or favorable time or occasion. We’re all on the lookout for opportunities and are told we should be open to them and seize them whenever possible. But an opportunity changes to opportunism when it serves one person by preying on the suffering of others. Opportunism is the policy or practice, as in politics, business, or one’s personal affairs, of adapting actions, decisions, etc., to expediency or effectiveness regardless of the sacrifice of ethical principles.

I found an interesting section in The Mind at Mischief called “Talking to the Dead” that talks about one aspect of opportunism and what makes people susceptible to it:

The average person, having passed through some sorrowful bereavement, craves satisfying assurance that his loved one has only passed on to enjoy the pleasures of a better world. The bereaved soul is tortured by anxiety and uncertainty, and craves that which will demonstrate and prove that his loved ones have survived death—that they enjoy consciousness beyond the vale. . . .These and many other questions throng the minds of mortals and clamor for an answer; and as long as they are there, spiritualism will have an excuse for existence—and an opportunity to deceive and to delude.

William S. Sadler, M. D.

Today’s Images

Opportunism makes me think of ambulance chasers, people who swoop in to make money off of other people’s suffering. Ambulances and hospitals make me think of the symbol of the square cross, or balanced cross, so for today’s images I used two different square cross filters, one an open shape with hot glue randomly drawn over it, and the other the cut-out shape placed in an open circle. I see the distortion of the shape through the lights’ overlap as the way that opportunism distorts opportunities to help people in need into greed making a bad situation so much worse.

Opportunism in Opportunity by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to write an abecedarian.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is the third two-for-Tuesday prompt, which means you get two prompts, and they are:

  1. Write a love poem, and/or…
  2. Write an anti-love poem.

dVerse Poets Pub

At dVerse the Poetics prompt is windows.

The Poem

Love is Not a Zebra in the Rain

Arnold gazes out his window through the raindrops and the ache
Bianca glances at the barren and the beholden burdened
Carlos sees characters carousing and clearly cheating
Darla doesn’t see anything through the dirty windows
Eugene’s eyes are closed to the ethics of opening envelopes
Franny’s fancies run feloniously far afield
Grant applies for grants that should go to good charities
Hannah helps the homeless hurry further from her home
Ivan ignites the suffering of the people he ignores
Jenna sells journeys into one’s own jealous mind
Ken kills everyone slowly and silently with chemicals
Laura lives for luxury but never looks
Monty mourns and will do anything for momentary relief
Noni never needs to know the numbers
Oscar often observes opportunism but opts for obscurity
Petra peers through panes at public parks and imagines pavement
Quin questions the quality of the quantity of others
Rhonda rues regarding the riff-raff and runs for office
Steven swoops in an steals from the suffering
Tara is tempted by the tears of the tormented
Ulrich understands your pain while paid under the table
Vera vows to vanquish the blemishes of the vain
Walter washes windows while watching and wondering
Xandra signs next to the X in every signature but her own
Yurik yearns for your missed payment with plenty to loan
Zara stares out the window at all the zebras in the rain

There’s Still Time for the Nonce Scavenger Hunt

Yesterday, while reading other participants’ poems, I visited Monty’s Blahg and came across the Nonce Scavenger Hunt. Murisopsis at A Different Perspective defines Nonce poetry forms as poetic forms created by poets for one-time use, and provides a list of twelve to try for the hunt.

Poetry Month Challenges Day 17: Need and Nonsense

Need in Nonsense by Maria L. Berg 2023

“I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells.” 

Dr. Seuss

“The pendulum of the mind alternates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.” 

Carl Jung

Need & Nonsense

Need is an urgent want, as of something essential or indispensable; a lack of something wanted or deemed necessary; a requirement, necessary duty, or obligation. Last year I talked about Maslow’s hierarchy of need, and how need connects to motivation, so I won’t go into that here. Nonsense is words or language having little or no sense or meaning; behavior and actions that are senseless, foolish, or absurd; and is also defined as impudent, insubordinate, or otherwise objectionable behavior.

From the definitions one could say that need is in contradiction with nonsense because needs are necessary for survival, and nonsense may be a detriment to survival. However, there are some that would say nonsense fulfills a need.

I found an article by Alex Sternick who practices “the Art of Nonsense and Laughter Therapy.” He said, “researchers found that nonsense may unconsciously influence the quality of implicit Learning. The students who read the absurd Story chose about 30 percent more of the letter strings, and were almost twice as accurate in their choices, than a comparison group of 20 students who had read a coherent short story.” He said, “If we understand from within that the external world is, by its nature, full of absurdities and contradiction, we can make choices to express meaningful purpose in our lives instead of following a nihilistic way of self-neglect and pessimism.” He believes speaking in gibberish helps us to stop fighting to understand everything and say anything without being judged or “wrong.”

Today’s Images

Last year when looking at “need,” I saw it as a spiral as in “the way a person can spiral when needs aren’t met.” How do I add nonsense to that? For today’s images I made wire spirals and hung them on another wire like my idea for the “blinds” idea. With multiple spirals moving without my control in a blob-shaped filter, I added nonsense to my need for expression.

Nonsense in Need by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is “to write a poem that contains the name of a specific variety of edible plant – preferably one that grows in your area. (That said, if you’re lacking inspiration, online seed catalogs provide a treasure trove of unusual and charming names for vegetables, fruits and flowers. Here’s one to get you started.) In the poem, try to make a specific comparison between some aspect of the plant’s lifespan and your own – or the life of someone close to you. Also, include at least one repeating phrase.”

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a nerve poem.

Today’s prompts gave me a happy excuse to spend some time with The Complete Herbal (1653) by Nicholas Culpeper, M. D.. I searched “nerve” in the text and chose an herb (specific variety of edible plant) that Culpeper said treated the nerves.

The Poem

The Benefits of Cowslips

Like cows in delicate a-line yellow slips
clustered in the field in spring
their bulbous lips softly petting the grass,
the cowslips gather on their stalks
in the pasture.

Venus lays claim to this herb as her own,
and it is under the sign Aries as I am.
The ointment of it adds beauty,
or at least restores it when it is lost.
It strengthens the brain and nerves
and remedies palsies. Guess I need
to preserve or conserve the flowers
and eat them every morning.
But for my outer wounds I’ll need
the leaves to make an ointment
with some hog’s grease.
The ointment of it adds beauty,
or at least restores it when it is lost.

I’ve never seen cows
wearing slips; yellow, delicate
or otherwise, and if I did
would the nonsense
sooth my nerves?

Poetry Month Challenges Day 16: The XY Axis of Fear and Control

Outer Control by Maria L. Berg 2023

Fear and Control

On April 2nd, I talked about my idea that all abstractions are on a continuum of fear between the extremes of fight or flight. I created a chart with a horizontal line with homeostasis and harmony at its center to chart all of the contradictory abstract nouns I’m studying this month.

Here’s what that chart looked like with all of the contradictory abstractions so far:

I was surprised by how many of the abstractions I’ve looked at clustered around the center and not the extremes.

This week I imagined another continuum for my chart: locus of control. All of these abstractions are perceived as inner or outer control. To see how this interacts with fight or flight, I created a vertical line (or Y axis) for the continuum of control with the extremes of completely inner or completely outer.

Though the locus of control seemed easy when thinking about it, when I went to put my abstract nouns in space, it didn’t seem as clear.

Today’s Images

Thinking about locus of control, I wanted to play with the new filter I made yesterday of the moving lines, putting outer control in my inner expression. I put my “blinds” over different shaped “windows.”

Gravitational Control by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to write a poem that involves describing something in terms of what it is not, or not like.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is a title prompt: “The (blank) of a (blank),”

The Poem

The pin prick of a future obsession

doesn’t tear a hole
it might bring a drop of blood
enough to bring the finger pad
to the lips, but it doesn’t bleed
it doesn’t even hurt, not really
only a little pressure,
a little surprise ouch,
and though it doesn’t stop you,
it doesn’t curtail your creation,
it lingers, somewhere in the
back of the day, already a memory
and yet, there it is, you can’t help
but touch the spot, the invisible
place of puncture, you can’t
stop rubbing it with your thumb;
you eye the pins warily
as if they plot against you
gathered cozily in their cushion
not a plush tomato, a disguised den of
point sharpening and strategizing;
you rub your finger on your
pant leg as if the betrayal
can be wiped away,
but you will never be whole

Poetry Month Challenges Day 15: Mercy and Misery

Misery in Mercy by Maria L. Berg 2023

Mercy & Misery

Misery is a condition or circumstance of distress or suffering; wretchedness; great mental or emotional distress; extreme unhappiness caused by need. Mercy is an act of kindness, compassion, or favor; compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; pity, or benevolence. To forbear is to refrain or abstain from; desist from; to keep back; withhold. So an act of mercy is an act of self-restraint. Somewhere in the concept of mercy is the need to restrain oneself from doing harm as well as being kind and compassionate.

Mercy also has an aspect of power. To show mercy, one must have more power than another. This contradicts with misery which is a state of distress and need, a state of powerlessness.

While looking at Misery and Mercy in The Mind at Mischief, I found this interesting passage:

It is commonly recognized that we have different personality presentations for home life and for company. We dress up, put on our best manner, and act quite differently—at least the majority of us do—when we have company, as compared with what we do when only the home folks are around.

I know a man who is “hard-boiled,” domineering and anything but pleasant in his business life; he is not much loved by his business associates. He is feared and dreaded by most of the people who have dealings with him; but I have observed this man in his home life under many and varying circumstances, and he is kindness, patience, and forbearance personified. He unfailingly shows a great affection and consideration for his family; and the entire family, including the servants, almost worship him.

This diversity of selves is also manifested in the matter of work and play. Most of us present an entirely different personality, as compared with our workaday selves, when we relax, throw off the harness, and go out to play. We are more natural and less artificial. We disport ourselves with more spontaneity and greater ease, with less of civilization’s restraint and inhibition, with less so-called dignity.

The average individual is in possession of, and constantly exhibits, from two or three up to four or five selves. Personality is certainly composite—it has many behavioristic facets which we may variously and at will turn to the gaze of the public or our immediate associates.

William S. Sadler, M.D. (1929)

What does this have to do with mercy and misery? I thought it was interesting that one person might cause misery at work but show mercy at home, or vice versa, depending on which is a more natural state, and which is a more artificial state.

Today’s Images

Inspired by the post I did last year on Mercy, and my first transformer filter I used for it, the door, I thought about the symbolism of shutting the blinds for both misery and mercy. I made a new filter cutting out a rectangle, cutting it into strips, hanging the paper strips on tiny rings on a piece of wire, and taping the wire over the rectangle. This representation of blinds over a glass door or window, created an interesting randomization of line position controlled by my movements and gravity. I added my string of purple LED lights to the mirrorworld to represent misery because my camera has a miserable time capturing them and detects them as blue.

Mercy in Misery by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is “Begin by reading June Jordan’s “Notes on the Peanut.” Now, think of a person – real or imagined – who has been held out to you as an example of how to be or live, but who you have always had doubts about. Write a poem that exaggerates the supposedly admirable qualities of the person in a way that exposes your doubts.”

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a shadow poem.

The Poem

Mercy for those suffering the misery of an unattractive shadow

We have everything you need
to get the sloppy out of that
shape following you around
For only thousands of dollars
and endless hours of focused attention
you can tame that trailing tail
into a trim obscuration
or make it disapear completely
if it won’t give cooperation
Here at Glop we have everything
you need to purchase bliss in your shade
On those glaring days when
that shadow’s too sharp
buy convenient, hand-powered
Glopbrella to round those edges
and for the dull and lifeless
umbrage there’s Glopglo
with a cute little crank
You’re saving the planet
while contouring your blank
And don’t forget the Glopness
an enclosure for those times
when you don’t want any shadow at all.
Hurry, mercy’s in hot demand.
Everyone has a shadow and
most are a misery to behold.
Don’t get caught with one
of those embarrassing shadows
next time you see the light.
Act fast!
Order now!

Poetry Month Challenges Day 14: Luck and Loss

Loss in Luck by Maria L. Berg 2023

Luck & Loss

Luck is a force that “seems to operate for good or ill in a person’s life.” It is good fortune; advantage or success, and considered as the result of chance. Fortune is chance personified, and “luck is a lady”. Chance is the absence of any cause of events that can be predicted, understood, or controlled: often personified or treated as a positive agency. Luck is something we blame for unforeseen events in our lives good and bad. It is external, and yet we often hear people say, “make your own luck,” which by all these definitions is an oxymoron (an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory figure of speech).

Loss is the state of being deprived of or of being without something that one has had. There is a lot of failure in the definition of loss: failure to win; failure to make good use of something; failure to preserve or maintain; detriment, disadvantage, or deprivation from failure to keep, have or get. Unlike luck, loss appears to have an internal component, and thus something that can be done about it.

Fortune favors the prepared mind.

Louis Pasteur

In an article from PBS news hour, Richard Wiseman, a psychology professor at University of Hertfordshire said that luck is determined by psychological behaviors and perception.

Wiseman focused on the personal attribute definition, saying that people who believe lucky things happen to them tended to fare better than people who felt unlucky.

“The lucky people knew how to bounce back. The unlucky ones tended to get dragged down by that failure,” he said.

“[Luck] manifests itself in a different way in different societies. But what’s underpinning that is that we like to be in control.”

While “lucky people are always in the right place at the right time,” unlucky people can’t catch a break.

“I think a big part of that, not all of it, but a big part of it is the way in which they’re thinking and where they’re behaving,” Wiseman said.

Continuing my study of Sadler’s The Mind at Mischief, I found that he connects loss to the sentiment of jealousy:

We are exercised by jealousy when the one we love gives to another that affection which we think belongs to us. We come to feel an emotion of ownership in our friends and loved ones, and the loss of their devotion wounds our pride and self-esteem. When one’s self-regarding sentiment has been severely wounded, there is likelihood of arousing the vengeful emotion associated with resentment and anger.

The green-eyed monster is ever the foe of happiness. If we permit jealousy to dominate the soul, joy is certain to depart. There is a sordid selfishness associated with this sentiment that precludes a tranquil state of mind.

William S. Sadler, M.D.

Later, while talking about the origins of an Inadequacy Complex, he connects fortune and loss:

No matter what it is, whether it be goiter, pimples or some other skin disorder, irregular teeth, an obese tendency or a tendency to emaciation— any simple physical condition may prove to be the starting point of this self-consciousness about being different from the average run of humanity. One of the most unfortunate cases of this kind I ever saw started from having to wear glasses—on account of eye trouble following measles—when the boy was only eight years old. It so happened that no other boy or girl in his room at school wore glasses, and the teasing that resulted all but ruined his life. Speech defects are still more commonly the starting point of this feeling of relative insufficiency. Stuttering or stammering, if not brought under control, is a very common cause of the early loss of self-confidence.

William S. Sadler, M.D.

In this case, he’s talking about genetic bad luck leading to teasing, but it gets to the heart of what luck is; it’s everything that is out of human control, and it can lead to perceived loss, or physical loss.

Today’s Images

To find the loss in luck and the luck in loss, I used the luck of a sunny day on the loss of a patch of lawn due to pink snow fungus. I used the luck of the toss to position my mirror balls and sticker cubes, and the loss of control by not looking in the camera, and using the panoramic function to capture the images. Inspired by Wiseman’s thoughts about the psychology of luck, I used my neuron filter, and my psychology made some interesting associations when using my pyramid transformer filters with my colored-stripe plastic filter.

Luck in Loss by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is “write a parody or satire based on a famous poem. It can be long or short, rhymed or not. But take a favorite (or unfavorite) poem of the past, and see if you can’t re-write it on humorous, mocking, or sharp-witted lines.”

I looked for famous poems about luck and loss and found “The Wishing-Caps” by Rudyard Kipling. I also read the lyrics to “Luck be a Lady” and thought about what the male equivalent Luck and personification of Fortune might be.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is “And now for something completely different.”

The Poem

Luck be a Gentleman

~after Rudyard Kipling

I recently took a tumble
with only my actions to blame.

But it felt like a sudden push
from a cruel, sneering Fortune’s hand.

And was death coming to join him?
Were they striking up the band?

If Fortune’s always lurking
to blow wind up my skirt
then luck is definitely a man
and a totally thoughtless jerk.

If I don’t tune-in for Fortune,
Fortune is streaming anyway.

Bad luck is never a gentleman
but a wrestler turned actor out of ring
all muscles, and gravely voice, and side-glance
pretending to be bitter-sweet.

Laugh at him once, not a weakness
the writer did a good job
but watch it again, or tell a friend
It’s a crime!
Turn away! Turn it off!

Oh huge, bulky Fortune!
Why don’t you fight anymore?
If you had not leapt from the mat
to my screen, I’m sure life
would not be a bore.

Good luck is never a gentleman
but the sloppiest villain in the ring
face-painted, demonic, and phony
Shameless cheater and cheat.

Lose him—he’s following a stranger
Find him—he’s on his back at the count of nine

Ignore him completely and then he gets sneaky
and the big man gets a super-hero flick
Oh huge, bulky Fortune!
I can’t afford or avoid him.

If I don’t wrestle Fortune,
then he must wrestle me.

Poetry Month Challenges Day 13: Kindness and Knowledge

The Kindness in Knowledge and the Knowledge in Kindness by Maria L. Berg 2023

Kindness & Knowledge

This is another fun pair to look at as contradictory. I looked at Kindness on the thirteenth last year. Kindness can be a state or quality, an act, a behavior, and/or a friendly feeling of benevolence. Benevolence is a desire to do good to others; goodwill; charitableness. And goodwill is a friendly disposition; cheerful acquiescence or consent. That last definition disturbs me a bit. Kindness is just happily giving in? That doesn’t sound right. And yet through gaining knowledge—acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation—about kindness, I have a disturbing new understanding of kindness. Is disturbing me kind? I would say not. So in my own experience this knowledge is the opposite of kindness.

Continuing yesterday’s exploration of instincts and emotions in The Mind at Mischief, Sadler says that the primary instincts and secondary emotions, together with the resultant sentiments, are the building blocks of the convictions of human experience. I found kindness as part of two of those convictions of human experience (I like that phrase):

Altruism—Altruism is also a conviction, at least with many people. It is, no doubt, founded on the basic emotion of elation and the instinct of self-assertion. We have a peculiar pride and satisfaction in knowing that we are big enough and good enough and kind enough to be altruistic. Then the emotions of sympathy and pity come in for their part. We are sympathetic with those we help, and sometimes we go so far as to pity them. In fact, altruism is a sort of glorified pity, exalted sympathy, idealized elation, if you please—a species of social patriotism.

Patriotism—Patriotism is no doubt founded on the primary emotion of security, associated with the herd instinct. We defend our country and our institutions because we need their protection. The element of rivalry comes in, starting out sometimes quite innocently, and ending, when our own security is threatened, with the arousal of pugnacity and its accompanying anger; and that, many times, means war. Also into our patriotism come the emotions of pride and vanity, altho we would not care to push these to the foreground in our own consciousness. Patriotism simply means loyalty to the common herd. It is a species of social courage.

William S. Sadler, M.D. (1929)

So Sadler is saying that kindness is actually for personal safety and protection. Sadler also defines knowledge in relation to social interactions:

If your town has a public library you have an education right there on its shelves, as far as book knowledge is concerned; but remember, real education, real culture, consists in the development of the character as an outgrowth of mingling and associating with your fellow men. If you have lived well and successfully, if you know how to associate with your fellows, if you are living a life that is making this world a better place for your children and grand-children to live in, then you are educated; indeed, you are more—you are, to some extent, cultured. Real education consists in the ability, each day, to learn how one more human being looks at life.

It should take a mature mind only six or eight months really to master all the essential knowledge in the whole four-year high-school course. We don’t send our children to school for the knowledge they get, so much as for the training, the discipline, social contact, play, and other things that help to develop their social and gregarious characters. We send them to school for contact with their teachers. The encyclopedia has more in it than the teacher ever knew, but the encyclopedia can never take the place of personal influence—the inspiration that comes from contact with a devoted teacher. Don’t bemoan the knowledge you have lost by not going to school, because you can easily make up for that by reading and study. There is no excuse for having an inferiority complex regarding education and intellectual attainments. If you are lacking in anything, get busy and acquire it.

William S. Sadler, M.D. (1929)
Kindness by Maria L. Berg 2023

Today’s Images

For today’s images I decided to take a break from my abstract photography and instead play with an “Art Assignment” to photograph the abstract. I found a book called You Are an Artist by Sarah Urist Green at my local library. It turned out to be a collection of the different artists’ Art Assignments from the PBS show “The Art Assignment.”

The assignment I chose for today is from Christoph Niemann and is called “Emotional Furniture (click link to watch video).” The assignment is:

You are the director of a drama, and your actors are pieces of furniture. Scan the objects that populate the rooms you inhabit and consider them anew. What emotions might they convey, either alone or through their juxtaposition with other objects? Then get moving, arrange and rearrange your furniture, and see what theatrics unfold before your eyes.

1. Arrange furniture in three different ways, conveying three distinct emotions:

  • envy
  • melancholy
  • confidence

2. Take three photographs, each documenting one arrangement.

Christoph used a couch and a folding chair to show Envy, Melancholy, and Confidence. I altered the assignment slightly to show Kindness, Knowledge, and the kindness in knowledge, and the knowledge in kindness.

Knowledge by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is “try writing a short poem (or a few, if you’re inspired) that follows the beats of a classic joke. Emphasize the interplay between the form of the poem – such as the line breaks – and the punchline.”

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is

The Poem

A Comedy of Errors in the Dangerous World of Art


What do you get
when you cross
a love seat and a bookcase?

A bloody head
and a sore shoulder.


Knock, Knock
Who’s there?
Wood Bookcase
Wood Bookcase who?
Would the bookcase
have cracked your head open
if you were nicer to it?
Maybe told it how
pretty it was
(before your head
cracked it back)
now and then?


A poet, an artist, and a photographer
walk into a living room
The poet sees the blue recliner in the corner
and the table by the window and
says, “melancholy.”
The artist sees the foot rest of the recliner
holding up the corner with the missing table leg
and says, “kindness.”
The photographer jumps up on the love seat,
staring through her camera, and says,
“Yes, but if I can get just the right angle, I
can capture it all, the melancholy, the kindness
the knowledge in kindness, and the kindness in knowledge.”
She twists and wiggles and squirms, bracing her legs
against the back of the couch.
The poet and artist are mesmerized
by her serpentine searching.
“I see it,” the photographer exclaims
but misses the camera’s trigger
as the loveseat falls back, tossing
the photographer into a bookshelf
and bashing her head open.

When the photographer gets up
and gently touches the wet crown
of her head, her bright red
bloody fingers terrify her.
The poet and artist are gone.
The recliner is just a chair
and the table leg needs fixing.
When the blood clots,
she’ll right the couch and
get a hammer.


How do you forgive
a bookcase for breaking your head?

You don’t.

It was the stupid, mean couch’s fault.

Poetry Month Challenges Day 12: Joy and Justice

Justice in Joy by Maria L. Berg 2023

Joy & Justice

I’ve looked at both Joy (Day 12 last year) and Justice (and as a contradictory abstraction with Injustice; The Seriousness of Justice and Injustice) before, but what makes today exciting is that through the A to Z challenge I’m thinking about joy and justice as contradictory and how that could happen and what that means.

Joy is the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation; delight; a state of happiness. Justice is the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness; the administering of deserved punishment or reward. All good things, right? How could they be contradictory? The first thing I thought of was a person not feeling they deserve the punishment or reward. That would definitely be contradictory to joy. Let’s look a little more closely.

In the fabulous text The Mind at Mischief (1929), Doctor Sadler connects emotions to instincts. He connects joy with self-assertion:

Elation—Elation is the emotion aroused by indulging the instinct of self-assertion. It is the emotion behind all our efforts at self-display. It is the positive element of self-consciousness. It is particularly exemplified in the characteristic swagger of the male and the vanity of the female, and is an emotion undoubtedly responsible for much of the conduct that goes by the name of bravery.

In the animal world we see this emotion in action as a spirited horse lifts high his hoofs and tenses every muscle in his body while prancing around on parade. It is shown in the spreading tail of the peacock, and the strutting of the mother hen in the presence of her chicks. We find this same primitive instinct coming to the front in certain cases of the human insane. Softening of the brain is sometimes accompanied by “delusions of grandeur,” the unfortunate individual becoming the victim of a boastful and insane elation.

Elation—self-assertion—is essential to human happiness. While over exaggeration of one’s ego invariably leads to trouble and more or less sorrow and unhappiness, a reasonable indulgence of self-display and the enjoyment of average self-expression are indispensable to good health and happiness. Human beings must have an opportunity to “show off”—at least in moderation—in order to be happy. Even the young child is observed to emerge from his bashful hiding behind his mother’s apron, and, after turning a somersault, inquire of the stranger, “Can you do that?” We are all more or less like the children, who, as they “show off,” say, “Watch me do this.” There is joy in performance. We are happy when in action. We are unhappy when we are denied the opportunity to indulge in some sort of self-assertion with its accompanying emotion of elation.

William S. Sadler, M.D.

So according to Doctor Sadler, joy arises from ego-stroking; in moderation (of course).

After outlining the instincts and their accompanying emotions, Sadler discusses the “human sentiments” which are our emotions coordinated and focused on some person or thing. We find his only mention of justice under the sentiment “Revenge”:

Revenge—Revenge is a complicated, deep-seated human sentiment. It starts out as rivalry, then grows into envy; disappointment breeds anger; in the end it is sometimes propelled by that demon of all human sentiments, hate. We may become angry at an insult which assails our elation and assaults our ego. We may seek retaliation because of some real or fancied wrong. It may be that a social struggle has challenged our pugnacity and thus aroused our anger and in the end embittered us to the indulgence of hate. Revenge is the full growth of tolerated bitterness and emotional disappointment.

Our whole system of law, penalties, and punishments is but an effort to substitute the machinery of public justice for the older order of private vengeance. The desire for revenge follows on the heels of conscious resentment. We more particularly resent public slights or insults, and our vengeful emotion is shown in our studied efforts to “get even” with the offender.

We also resent insult or injury to our family, tribe, or country, and thus may develop family feuds and national animosities with their bloodshed and wars. The savage, ofttimes, when brooding over his insult and his contemplated revenge, is found to “sulk in his tent.” Vengeance is a deliberated sort of resentment in contrast with the sudden and unrestrained emotional reaction of anger, tho all revenge is rooted and grounded in anger—the pugnacious instinct.

The soul who seeks revenge is sad and self-centered. Joy attends the forgiving spirit, while sorrow and regret are the final rewards of all who allow their better natures to be ravaged by the barbarous desire for personal vengeance.

William S. Sadler, M.D.

There we have the contradictory nature of justice and joy: joy forgives, and justice wants revenge. Joy is ego-stroking in moderation, and justice is the vengeance of an insulted ego.

Now that I’ve found the contradiction of joy and justice, how will I reunite them in my images?

Today’s Images

Previously when looking at justice, I created an elaborate moving scales filter, and for joy I used an elaborate hearts and stars pattern filter that fit on the lens cover. Today, I wanted to simplify. Justice makes me think of straight vertical lines, or a single centered point. Joy makes me think of movement and bright colors. To find the joy in justice, and the justice in joy I drew colored lines on a clear plastic filter, then used a transformer filter over it that has two thin rectangles that open and close. The inner rectangles are folded back and forth to give a stair effect (top image). I also explored the vertical stripes in the sheer fabric I put over the main mirror yesterday (image below).

Joy in Justice by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is “to write a poem that addresses itself or some aspect of its self (i.e., “Dear Poem,” or “what are my quatrains up to?”; “Couplet, come with me . . .”)”

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a sound poem.

The Poem

Poem, how do you sound today?

Are you raucous and celebratory:
full of bright yays and ha ha has
snorts and huzzahs and guffaws
claps, snaps, and aaaahs?

Or are you structured and subdued:
stuck in traditions just
with exclamations few
and A B end rhymes must?

But buzz, buzz distraction
and woohoo! loves elation
found in sound and whiz bang!
everything changes

Joy justified sounds clear
like the tink, tink, tink
of tapping a full glass
with a tiny collector’s spoon
with a windmill on the handle
with moving blades.

Poetry Month Challenges Day 11: Idiosyncrasy & Integrity

Integrity in Idiosyncrasy by Maria L. Berg 2023

Idiosyncrasy & Integrity

Idiosyncrasy is a characteristic, habit, mannerism, or the like, that is peculiar to an individual; a persons oddities and quirks. Integrity is the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished and adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

I found this interesting passage on integrity in Discourses of Epictetus (the Stoic philosopher):

For two reasons then it is right to be content with that which happens to thee ; the one, because it was done for thee and prescribed for thee, and in a manner had reference to thee, originally from the most ancient causes spun with thy destiny ; and the other, because even that which comes severally to every man is to the power which administers the universe a cause of felicity and perfection, nay even of its very continuance. For the integrity of the whole is mutilated, if thou cuttest of it anything whatever from the conjunction and the continuity either of the parts or of the causes. And thou dost cut off, as far as it is in thy power, when thou art dissatisfied, and in a manner triest to put anything out of the way.

Be not disgusted, nor discouraged, nor dissatisfied, if thou dost not succeed in doing everything according to right principles but when thou hast failed, return back again, and be content if the greater part of what thou doest is consistent with man’s nature, and love this to which thou returnest ; and do not return to philosophy as if she were a master, but act like those who have sore eyes and apply a bit of sponge and egg, or as another applies a plaster, or drenching with water. For thus thou wilt not fail to obey reason, and thou wilt repose in it.


I believe he is saying that we with be happiest when accepting every part of ourselves as integral to our whole experience.

I found some really interesting thoughts about idiosyncrasies in Hegel’s discussions on artistic originality in The Philosophy of Fine Art, volume 1 (of 4) / Hegel’s Aesthetik:

(β) And for these reasons we would point out that “a manner” of this kind is not so much to be contrasted directly with the true exposition of art as to be considered in relation to the purely external aspects of art where the individuality of the particular mode of treatment comes into play. This kind of manner is most conspicuous in the arts of painting and music for the reason that these arts present to the artist the widest variety of external characterization for him to seize upon and reproduce. What we find here is a certain artificial manner of general execution entirely peculiar to some particular artist and the school of imitators or pupils who follow him, which through constant repetition degenerates into mere habit.

(αα) And its tendency is to develop on one of two ways in which we may regard the artistic work. First, there is there the essence of the subject-matter artistically treated, so that this very uniqueness of expression appears to arise from the unique characteristics of the material to which it is applied; and we may say with equal truth either that the expressed form is due to those characteristics, or that this unique impression we obtain from them proceeds from the creative unity of the artist.

(β) True originality must be entirely kept distinct from individual caprice and every kind of personal expression that is due to fortuitous causes. A common idea of originality is simply the stringing together of so many curiosities, things which this particular individual and no other could perpetuate or even faintly imagine. That is, however, merely idiosyncrasy gone mad.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

I think what Hegel’s saying is the originality of a piece of art is not due to the idiosyncrasies of the artist, but the integrity of her techniques, choice of medium, and idea working together to create an artistic expression.

Today’s Images

To find idiosyncrasy in integrity and integrity in idiosyncrasy, I hung a sheer floral and striped fabric over my main mirror, then I used a curtain rod over the mirrorworld to hang my lights in a column in the center. I used splatter-cut filters as my shapes looking for interesting forms in their overlap. And because the dVerse Poetics prompt was yellow, I played with the yellow filter setting in my camera, too.

Idiosyncrasy in Integrity by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is “write a poem that takes as its starting point something overheard that made you laugh, or something someone told you once that struck you as funny.”

I finished up my Modern and Postmodern class at coursera this morning. While watching the video,s I “overheard” Cornell West say some things about romanticism and pragmatism.

Poem A Day

Today is the second Two for Tuesday and the prompts are:

  1. Write a form poem, and/or…
  2. Write an anti-form poem.

For today’s poem, I used a form I invented called “Jar and Janus.”

dVerse Poets Pub

Today’s Poetics prompt is yellow.

The Poem

Philosophy in the Mirror of Nature

Idiosyncrasy weaves lemon socks of integrity.
No romantic wholeness to be shattered.
Warm and fresh inertia can incorporate
the bitter seeds that slip through the strainer.

Integrity mixes sunshine scents of idiosyncrasy;
Personal catastrophe lyrically expressed.
Dandelion roots in inertia incorporate
belonging like laundry drying on the line.

Idiosyncrasy pulls turmeric legs of integrity.
Can you create harmony? If you can’t; disappointment.
Long and still inertia can incorporate
this super-substance three times better with pepper

Integrity accepts pineapple voices of idiosyncrasy
tempered with a sense of tragedy.
Daffodil shade in inertia incorporates
wholeness like a thick spiky rind.