Daily Art: Katsushika Oi

Oh hi. Welcome back.

You probably know this painting

Probably this one too

But I’ll bet that you don’t know this one

Would it shock you to know that all of them come from the same family?

That’s right, perhaps the greatest of all Japanese artists Hokusai was not the only in his family with a brilliant legacy of art. In fact even he himself would argue that one among his lineage surpassed him

That is, Katsushika Oi! The daughter of Hokusai, an oft shrouded figure whose artistic legacy remains confusing though the sheer talent certainly not.

Oi from the beginning of her life had grown up with the expectation of working with art. She grew working with her father in his workshop, oftentimes assisting him with various works. When she married Minamizawa Tomei later their marriage fell apart after only 3 years due to Oi being unable to stand Tomei’s subpar work and laughing at him as a result.

So, Oi went back to Hokusai’s work and continued to assist her father. They worked as a brilliant pair with Oi often adding in details which Hokusai forgot. Along the way Oi had the chance to even showcase some of her own works, though much of it is sadly lost or unknown.

(Three Women Playing Musical Instruments, by Katsushika Oi, 1850)

(Cherry Blossoms at Night, by Katsushika Oi, 1850)

Oi was unequivocally brilliant at technical drawings of people, especially women which her father Hokusai had always struggled with.

I do think this piece (Display Room in Yoshiwara at Night, by Katsushika Oi, 1840s) is absolutely her masterpiece. Just look at the vivid use of color, the complex shading and the artful obscuration of the central women. Fantastic! I think it really is quite strikingly detailed compare to a lot of ukiyo-e work, with the way that the lanterns and other light cut through the darkness in the foreground. Here, by enveloping the courtesans and their world in darkness, as it would be in reality, the pleasure districts being a place of light in the midst of a mysterious night.


The Return of Daily Art

Hi everybody. Old fans and friends of mine might remember that I used to make a daily Snapchat story featuring daily pieces of artwork that I found interesting. I retired it in 2021 I believe after growing rather exhausted with constantly posting and feeling like I had nowhere left to go with the project.

Well, say no more. Because Daily Art is back! This time we’re going to be exploring a lot more than paintings, I’m interested in analyzing everything from sculpture to architecture to performance art to even film! I’ll have a post up daily with a quick summary of the work and what it’s all about. Once a week I’ll also have a special bigger post. This post might contain audio from yours truly, video analysis of a piece, or even interviews with experts on the creator. So, for the first installment of Daily Art Reborn I would like to start with TWO pieces. Let’s go!

The Atomic Age

So, we all know this painting right?

Even if you don’t know the name of it, you have almost certainly seen it before. It’s a painting as iconic as the Mona Lisa or Starry Night. That’s right, it’s The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali (1931)! But, we’re not here to talk about this painting, not in a traditional sense. For did you know that it has a sequel?

This is The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory (1954). Just a small 25.4 × 33 cm. It at once strikes familiarity yet also stuns with an odd discomfort that I don’t think the original one provides.

It’s at this point that we need to understand the context in which Dali created this work. Dali had begun to reject the surrealist movement that he helped pioneer and turn towards fields of natural science. Dali even condemned the surrealist movement to “at least have served to give experimental proof that total sterility and attempts at automatizations have gone too far and have led to a totalitarian system.” Something like that.

Regardless, science and mathematics were Dali’s passion now. For example, in a lot of paintings in this era we see the proliferation of images of DNA and rhino horn shapes.

However the topic of interest that most struck Dali’s fancy was that of the atom. World War II had scarce ended when Dali began painting picture showing floating atomic particles and references to quantum mechanics.

That’s Galatea of the Spheres (1952), an example of Dali’s blend of classical mythology with the nymph Galatea being broken down into atomic parts.

In the Surrealist period, I wanted to create the iconography of the interior world and the world of the marvelous, of my father Freud. Today, the exterior world and that of physics have transcended the one of psychology. My father today is Dr. Heisenberg.”


This now brings us back to the Disintegration. What fascinates me the most about this work is the way that we see Dali implicitly reject the past while still taking elements in. The Persistence had a soft, dreamlike quality to it and an almost kind of magic to the melting landscape which it contained.

Meanwhile, Disintegration takes that softness and throws it out the window. What once was soft curves is now hard, stiff edges. What used to be a gentle landscape is now rigid floating pieces of metal. It’s fascinating that just as the atomic age is beginning to take over the consciousness of the public, it also seems to take over the past as well. Everything is broken down into those small pieces as a symbol of the changing times. What’s most interesting is the implication that surrealism could no longer maintain itself in this new age, and that old works like the Persistence had essentially fallen apart in the face of new revolutions.

But, what do you think?

La Haine

Warning: There are spoilers for this film. Be advised, watch it before you read or don’t. I can’t control you! Anyway, I’ve provided a summary down below as well.

First of all, I thought the cinematography of this film was fantastic. There are a lot of brilliant long tracking shots where we see the characters move in one continuous motion throughout the grimy streets and interiors of the urban landscape. I also thought that the dialogue between the three was a brilliantly accurate dialogue of the way that three close friends talk to each other, argue and joke to the point where it felt like it was just a documentary rather than actors. Something else I also appreciated is the pacing of the film. There are a lot of quiet moments of just walking around chatting followed by brief sporadic moments of violence then back to the quiet moments. It builds up tension until the inevitably climax where you finally think things are resolved only for it to come crashing down.

This is one of the most powerful films that I have seen in a long time. The film starts with the three main characters Vinz, Said and Hubert waking up the day after one of their friends has been severely beaten by the police and the riots that happen afterwards. They end up hanging out together, getting into trouble, talking about women and farts and so on while generally getting into trouble. Throughout the whole film Vinz and Hubert are constantly at odds with each other in regards to violence as Vinz craves killing a police officer with his gun and Hubert advocates for non violence as “hate breeds hate.” Said acts as the moderate force in between them as the three constantly find new things to do. They constantly are confronted by the police and run away barely in time to escape.  It begins with a rooftop party they’re at being interrupted, followed by their arrest for trying to see Abdel in the hospital and then later fleeing from the police after a violent fight breaks out. After the fight breaks out where Vinz nearly shoots an officer, they end up on a train to Paris. Once they’re in Paris Hubert and Said end up being arrested after an encounter to pick up Said’s money from Hubert goes wrong. Vinz is the only one who escapes and wanders around Paris. witnessing  a genuine murder committed his friend who is refused entrance into a club. Eventually the three of them fight off a group of skinheads and Vinz holds one of them hostage, with Hubert pushing to see if Vinz is truly a murderer. Ultimately Vinz relents and lets the skinhead free. When all seems well and they finally arrive home from Paris, an officer who had been constantly taunting them from before arrives and assaults Vinz when his loaded gun ends up going off. The film ends on an ambiguous note as Hubert in a fit of rage points his gun at the officer as the officer does the same and a single gunshot is heard….

La Haine is ultimately a film about violence. It’s a film about the ways that violence permeates through each of these three characters lives weaving in and out. They can choose to seek it out or they can choose to avoid it but it’ll always come back to find them. The way this film builds so much tension in how it forces us to watch time tick away, causing us to say to ourselves “so far, so good. so far, so good”. But we know that something must collapse in on itself and by the end it does. There is a strength to the way that these three characters try to elevate themselves above the violence yet fall back down again and again, becoming another statistic, another incident, another number to greater society. Ultimately the final words of the film are the most poignant. It’s about a society in decline and nobody is safe from the fall.

Literature Uncategorized

Research Stuff I worked on

Last semester, I wrote a paper about Perceval, Galahad and how the Grail Quest became spiritual. In this paper, I examine the influence of the Cistercian Order and St Bernard as well the religious culture of the time to analyze the Vulgate Cycle. I also pull in Chretian De Troyes’s Perceval as as comparison point. I’m particularly proud of it so check it out!

Music Uncategorized

Hildegard Von Bingen:

A true (Pre) Renaissance Woman!

Hello everybody. Starting this year, I’m planning on posting at least once every week if not more. Make that a commitment. Anyway

This week I’m going to be discussing my 12th century favorite writer, composer, philosopher, mystic, nun, visionary, doctor, linguist, poet and illustrator of all time.

I also forgot to mention that she made a really good cookbook!

Cookies and honey wine derived from recipes listed in Physica and Causes and Cures

Revolutionary Musician

Of course, if you’ve heard of Hildegard Von Bingen before it is almost certainly for her musical compositions. So let’s just get this out of the way. First of all, you have to understand her role aas being an actual attributed medieval composer. That was a rarity back in the medieval era, with most songs not receiving any attribution at all.

The second thing you have to understand is that Hildegard was pushing the constraints of the music of her era, which if you know anything about it is essentially a lot of chants. For instance, take a look at this recording of Hermannus Contractus, a contemporary composer at the time.

As we can see in this and in all Gregorian chants, it’s monophonic which means that there is only one melody line throught the entire song

The thing about Hildegard’s music is that the music just soars so much more. Nothing against Hermannus, an incredible figure in his own right but this is lovely to listen to.

We see a lot of surprisingly modern elements within Hildegard’s music. It pushes the boundary of the time period in a completely distinct fashion. Additionally, examine how melismatic the music is in comparison to Hermannus’s. It is really cool. Finally, the text is a lot more intimate than essentially all of our contemporaries at the time. It’s free verse, and highly original within the context of the period which she composed in.

Music was always an important element in Hildegard’s life. She believed it as being the highest form of prayer, a medium which divinely united heaven and earth and had a form of spiritual beauty unlike anything else. Hildegard near the end of her life was actually forbidden from singing due to an interdict (essentially mass excommunication) from the church when they refused to dig up the body of a man in their monastery. One of the punishments were the forbidding of singing absolutely anything.

As a result, Hildegard wrote an angry letter to the archbishop which basically threatened that the archbishop would go to hell unless he lifted the interdict. Which he did, just a few months before her death.

This will be brought up later but also Hildegard essentially wrote the first musical in Ordo Virtutum which is pretty freaking cool.

If you’re further interested in her music, A Feather on the Breath of God (Gothic Voices, 1985) is one of the best albums of her work.

All in all, this quote from her sums up

“There is the music of heaven in all things. But we have forgotten to hear it until we sing.”

Just an all out outstanding composer in the history of classical music.

Conlang Creator

This one is a personal favorite of mine, just because I think it is extremely cool. Alright, so do you guys know what a conlang is? It’s exactly what you think it is. It’s a language consciously deviced and created, think like Klingon. The most widely spoken conlang is Esperanto, with around 100,000 speakers worldwide. You can find out more about it here.

So yeah,. Hildegard was known to claim divine inspiration for her works, like her music for example. This also applies in the case of the conlang she created, which was a set of 23 letters. All that remains of the language is 1011 words and a few short manuscripts containing the language. There is very little other information about this language, with even her contemporaries noting that the knowledge of it would be lost after her death.

The 23 letters

The only idea regarding grammar with Litterae Ignotae is that it seems like it has a similar grammar structure to Latin. Therefore in that case it looks like it may be a reflexation, which is taking one language’s vocabulary and substituting it into another’s grammar. But yeah, that is all there is to Litterae Ignotae. Fun fact, if you were to consider this to be a conlang this would absolutely be the first one by far. The consensus first conlangs don’t show up until the 16th century!


This one is also pretty neat! Health had appered a lot in Hildegard’s writings before, but in 1151 she wrote the book Physica. This work was a lot more down to earth than her spiritual writings, being a legitimately fairly comprehensive list of scientific and medical properties of various things. Everything from fish to animals to plants was carefully documented. It’s 16 chapters long and tells you about stuff like how to cure rabies or surprisingly preserve beer using hops.

However, Physica cannot even hope to compare to her next work. Hildegard’s Causae et curae is an immense work with over 300 chapters of information. Hildegard even bothered to discuss women’s health as well in sections on relevant issues such as menustral cramps. It is amazing what you can write when you don’t subscribe to Aristotlean assertations of sex, and actually treat men and women equally. Now, I won’t say that this advice is good or even safe. Hildegard describes that you should take “the amount that a thirsty person can swallow in one gulp” blood from somebody which is just very not good. But, there are some legitimately true pieces of advice in there. Hildegard calls for a good diet, rest and moderation in activity as well as material cures over spiritual ones. She didn’t think of disease as a natural thing, but rather as a failing of the body which is pretty obvious to us today but not before. Additionally she even advocated for diagnosis via checking the patient’s blood, pulse, urine, and stool.

I’m of course skipping over all the weird stuff here, such as eating a goat liver for male infertility or the power of nature to cure people but it is remarkable for what it is. There is a reason why she is one of only four women to hold the position of Doctor of the Church, when Pope Benedict XVI anointed her to that position in 2012. No matter the veracity of the information today, you have to deeply admire the commitment to create such wide spanning and diverse medical texts in an area of limited information. It clearly worked too, as according to accounts many sick and suffering people were brought to her monastery to be healed.

Poet, Writer, Philosopher

I could spend a looong time discussing all of these individually, but that would probably delve into an overly lengthy discussion on theology and nobody wants to see that.

Theological Writings

There are three primary theological writings to discuss when examining Hildegard’s visionary theology. We’ll first start by talking about Scivias

An illustration from Scivias

At this point, Hildegard was 42 and had been suffering from blinding visions since she was 5. Finally one day though she received a direct order from God to share her visions in writing and she did so. Surprisingly not without hesitation though, as indicated by a letter to St Bernard of Clavriux (who you might know about if you’ve read my research!)

Frontispiece of Scivias

In 1147 a delegation from Disibodenberg arrived at Hildegard’s convent and took a copy of the writings as they were at the time. Subsequently, Pope Eugene III not only approved of the writings but also authorized her to essentially write whatever she wanted with her visions.

By the way, in regards to the illustrations Hildegard almost certainly did not do them, but may have at least helped create an outline or dictate their content. This can be seen on the frontispiece

Tangent: Ordo Virtutum

So, Scivias has 26 visions described in details. The 26th one however is unique because it contains a play within it! After Hildegard describes her final vision and how she “saw the lucent sky, in which I heard different kinds of music (symphonia), marvelously embodying all the meanings I had heard before.”, we are treated to a set of 14 songs.

Beginning of the Ordo VIrtutum, Wiesbaden, Hessische Landesbibliothek, Hs. 2, f. 478v.
Look at that musical notation!

Afterwards, we get this really fascinating drama! It’s by far the earliest morality play, a play genre popular in 14th centuries. Baiscally all that happens in it is some angels, demons and personified concepts like “truth” try to convince a generic protagonist to their side. Unlike those morality plays, Hildegard’s is sung! It’s incredibly fortunate that both the text and the music have survived for so long, and it is quite cool to see how musical dramas even worked in an era of plainchant.

Shoutouts to the devil by the way, who can only yell or grunt in the play because singing is divine harmony.

Liber Vitae Meritorum

This one is pretty boring, so I’ll go fast. It espouses on the themes of Ordo Virtutum by continuing to place virtues against sins in these dramatic confrontations about life. It’s pretty cool!

Liber Divinorum Operum

Now this is more like it. Liber Divinorum Operum has some of the most dramatic and large scale visions Hildegard ever wrote about, worthy of “an extraordinary mystical vision”

Hildegard of Bingen - "Universal Man" (1165) [illumination from Liber  Divinorum Operum] : r/museum
A really cool illustration!

It is very much difficult to describe the scope of Liber Divinorum Operum but I will try my best. Essentially it is this grand cosmic drama with the idea of divine love of God being at the middle. The first vision tells us everything from arc of salvation history, from the creation and fall of the angels, through the creation and fall of humans, to their redemption.

I saw as if the head of an eagle that had eyes of fire, in which

appeared the brilliance of the angels as in a mirror. But at the tip of the arc where the left wing

curves back there was as if a human face that shined like the brilliance of the stars.

In the remainder of the first part of the work, Hildegard goes on to discuss the place of humans within the vast universe. The next part looks at the beginning of Genesis through multiple intepretations. Finally, the third part uses this poetic and cosmological imagery to examine salvation history and the final judgement of God. Trust me, it’s a lot. I’ll leave a link here if you are interested in reading some insane stuff.


Yes, Hildegard Von Bingen was a brilliant creator but also a savvy political force. She exerted a tremendous amount of influence on Western Europe at the time, becoming friends with multiple Popes and Emperors. We have nearly 400 letters addressed to a variety of different political figures, which shed quite a bit of light upon her life. Hildegard traveled quite a bit as well which is astonishing given her gender, circumstances and the era. She even went places as far as Belgium, Switzerland and France!

Here’s a map of her preaching tours.

The fact that she not only went on these tours but was widely accepted speaks to her power as an individual at the time. Keep in mind that she wasn’t just going to other monasteries to preach, Hildegard was preaching in front of large crowds publicly. It’s not like she was content to just give safe, bland sermons as well she actively denounced the church’s selling of offices and fervently called for reform. In an era where women’s voices were few and far between, hers rang out strikingly.

Frederick Barbarossa himself invited her to meet with him, and several years later praised her prophecy skills. All in all, she communicated with four popes, two Prussian emperors, King Henry II of England, and Phillip, Court of Flanders. Don’t forget the countless bishops, clergy and archbishops she talked with which are far too many to count. Finally, in regards to Saint Bernard and his relationship to Hildegard. Saint Bernard actually specifically sought out Hildegard to try and use her influence to spark interest in a Crusade which tells you a lot about how powerful she was. Seriously, Saint Bernard the guy who founded the Cistercian Order asking Hildegeard for help? Incredibly impressive.


All in all, there was so much more to talk about here. I could have discussed her poetry, minor theological works, lasting influence and so on. However I leave that to you the reader to do so. I think that Hildegard is legitimately on of the most fascinating figures in all of history. When we think of polymaths like Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Lebiniz and so on she should be right there in the pantheon. I hope that my post has taught you something new today and I look forward to seeing you next time.

What’s up next time? Well, my first foray in film criticism. See you then.

Art History Uncategorized

Reposting my Analysis of The Night Watch

l wrote this a while ago for my daily art stuff. Figured I might as well post it here.

The Night Watch is undoubtedly one of my favorite paintings of all time. There are so many little details to analyze and fully break down in their whole. For instance, did you know that the Night Watch actually takes place during the daytime? It only appears as if it is in the dark because of all the layers of dark which have obscured it over time. However, today I would like to discuss something which I feel has gone somewhat unnoticed. In the Night Watch, I feel something that makes the painting as great as it is would be the use of position.

 First of all, look at the hand of the man dressed in black. The way that it is pointed gives it an almost three dimensional quality. It looks like it is popping out of the painting directly towards the viewer, almost inviting them to join the officers. This applies similarly to the spear which the lieutenant clutches right beside him. The spear is angled in a way where it juts out of his side, appearing to enter the space of the onlooker. That’s what gives this painting a sort of spontaneous theme. We don’t feel like this is somebody painting a scene from ages ago, we feel as if this scene is happening right now in front of us. That is not all though. Behind the two central figures, we see action directly taking place. On the left, a man in red is beginning to load gunpowder into his musket. In the middle we can see the smoke from a gunshot which just happened. On the right we can see an old man dressed in red who is blowing out the powder from his weapon. What this does is add this sense of urgency to the painting. It’s almost like a still frame from a film because so many things are going on at once. There’s no static nature to it because clearly there’s some sort of conflict happening and shots have been and will be fired.

 I also really appreciate the contrast between the captain and the drummer. 

On the left, to the northwest of the man in black we see a captain triumphantly raising a standard. The heroic pose he strikes, with his arm confidently sticking out and his head tilted up suggests utmost confidence in victory. His other arm is tucked in, displaying this gentlemanly quality in the chaos of a fight. The drummer boy on the other side seems to be a different story.  He is almost bent out of the frame, clearly awkward and clumsy as a lone dog barks at his music. The way he stands implies an inexperience, in sharp contrast to the well organized well experienced captain. This could imply that not all members of the militia feel the same patriotic sense of duty as it would seem.

 I turn your head towards the man in the black hat talking to another person. The way which the man in the black hat points suggests a sort of leadership quality present in the two men in front. The one on the very right turns his head towards the crowd of people, perhaps confused about what is happening or who the leader is. His companion points to the two officers in the front as if to explain “Hey, these two are in charge here. Ask them if you have any questions.”, and his casual pose with a musket slung across his shoulder belts a blunt indifference to the happenings. These two figures may have just burst through the crowd to lead the march, contextualizing the obviously uncertain pose which the militia member on the very right conveys. 

One of the more interesting aspects of the Night Watch is the golden girl in the middle of the painting. Her presence brings up several interesting questions. Who is she? What is she doing in the middle of such a scene? What are the strange objects on her waist? Let us try to dissect this bit by bit. 

Shown below is the chain of the Amsterdam Company of Arquebusiers (musketeers). Some of the links are decorated with claws—the musketeer emblem. Thus, the chicken around her waist makes sense. 

Look at the plucked chicken. It is clear now that the girl is some sort of mascot for the militia as odd as it seems. She carries not only the emblem of the musketeers but also the ceremonial drinking horn. The fact though that this is simply a plucked chicken and not an elaborate chain raises several ideas. What is clearly implied is that this militia was assembled in a rush. They couldn’t find the chain so they were forced to snatch a neighbor’s chicken and kill it to somewhat use as a mascot. At the same time, I sense that Remberant is making a bit of a mockery of the milia. At this time they had lost much power, so it would make sense that instead of a beautiful chain they would be resorting to random chickens killed out of necessity. Remberant is maybe telling us that despite the glowing appearances, this milia is more rugged than one would think. 

I’m almost done here, I promise. Here’s something lse cool. In between the captain and the mustached man next to him, you can see a beret wearing person’s eye. That’s Rembrandt himself! Talk about a careful cameo from yours truly.

Let’s wrap this up. One thing that saddens me is the fact that this painting is too big. Many years after this painting was created, it was moved to the town hall of Amsterdam. Unfortunately the painting was so big that it wouldn’t fit on the wall. What did they do when they found this out? Well, they cut off four pieces of the painting. Those pieces have never been found. Luckily an early copy gives us some impression of what those four pieces looked like. It just sucks that the early copy A. isn’t too great of a painting and B. almost certainly is quite different from the actual four pieces.

Here’s a look at the early copy. Thank you and goodbye.