Marchuk was born on May 12th 1936 in Moskalivka, Ukraine. The Daily Telegraph (UK) listed him as one of the 100 geniuses of today.
Marchuk graduated from Lviv Institute of Applied and Decorative Arts in 1965, and his work was exhibited in Moscow, Kiev and other Soviet cities but it wasn’t until 1990 that he was officially recognised by the Soviet artistic establishment. His work has now been displayed in New York, Toronto, Detroit, Philadelphia, Massachusetts and Sydney, Australia. The Boston Herald wrote that Marchuk’s paintings “Expressed the desire for independence, the pain and anger, the pride and hope of [his] people.”
Source: Hogan, E (editor), ‘From Three Worlds’, New Ukrainian Writing, 1996, GLAS Publishing
For me, art – is life and revelation. There is no alternative. Simultaniously, art – is a hard labor. I work 365 days a year, and without it I can not exist. This is destiny, karma, judgment, doom.
Oedipus, along with Sisyphus, Achilles and Odysseus, is a figure from Greek myth who is part of our modern psyche. His story, whose key points are widely known, belongs to our collective cultural history; he lends his name to a psychological complex. In philosophy, Oedipus can be discussed as a case of free will versus determinism.
Oedipus was certainly no hero in the Theseus or Perseus mold. An argument could be made that he was no hero at all, but a tragic figure. However, he was strong enough to overcome four royal guards single-handedly, and intelligent enough to solve the riddle of the Sphinx, thereby freeing the people of Thebes.
A warrior (like Achilles), an strategist (like Odysseus), a character doomed for unimaginable punishment (like Sisyphus) ? We see what a complex character Oedipus is, and why he still holds our interest and awe.
So, the key points, what the ‘average person’ knows about Oedipus:
He killed his father and slept with his mother
He solved the Riddle of the Sphinx
Some background is necessary. Some clarification is absolutely necessary.
Firstly, he unwittingly killed his father (King Laius; I shall elucidate later). Secondly, as a reward for freeing Thebes from the curse of the Sphinx, Oedipus was given Queen Jocasta, Laius’ widow, to wed. The patricide and insest were commited freely. Or were they ? Oedipus had been told that he would kill his father and marry his mother, which is exactly what happened, despite his determination to prove the prophecy false.
Therefore, it is my contention that Oedipus was punished for having the hubris to believe that he could defy fate. Yet, the question remains: why was Oedipus fated for such a punishment ? For that, we have to go back a generation and learn about his father, King Laius of Thebes.
Laius was from the House of Thebes and, as a young man, left his home town and stayed in Elis with King Pelops, a grandson of Zeus and son of Tantalus (but that is another story). Laius was a guest, and became tutor to Pelops’ son Chrysippus. Laius committed the unpardonable sins of abducting and raping the boy. For this he was cursed. Should he ever have a son, that child would murder him, then marry the widow. Despite Laius forcing himself to decline the pleasure of his wife, nature, to employ a phrase, took its course. A son was born, a son that Laius demanded be left alone on a mountain, his feet pinned together.
The shepherd charged with this duty gave the baby to a friend from Corinth, where the baby was adopted by the childless King Polybus and Queen Meriope. The child was named Oedipus, meaning swollen foot (and from which we get the medical term oedema, swelling in the feet and ankles) . Oedipus loved and was loved by his parents, and all was well in Corinth. Until, that is, a drunken man told Oedipus the truth, that he was not the natural child. Polybus and Meriope denied this, but Oedipus (in perhaps his first mistake, not believing his parents) travelled to the Oracle at Delphi to learn the truth. His origin was confirmed, and his fate, to kill his father and marry his mother, was proclaimed.
In an attempt to avoid this prophecy, Oedipus travelled instead to Thebes. On this journey, he met a carriage coming towards him. Either the driver grazed him, struck him, or demanded that he yield and give way. This infuriated Oedipus, and a fight ensued. In the carriage was an old man; King Laius. The King and all his guards, all but one of the retinue, were slain by Oedipus for their disrespectful treatment of a king’s son.
Whether he was brave to refuse this slight, or flawed by an uncontrollable albeit understandable anger, Oedipus had unwittingly fulfilled the first part of the prophecy.
Continuing on to Thebes, Oedipus encountered the Sphinx and solved the riddle (which I’m sure you are all familiar with). Defeated, the Sphinx killed herself and, as mentioned earlier, Oedipus was given the widowed Queen Jocasta. The had four children and all was well. For a time. A plague decimated Thebes, and it would not abate until the murderer of Laius was found and punished. Eventually, it was revealed that Oedipus was the killer. Jocasta hanged herself, Oedipus blinded himself and went into self-imposed exile, wandering the countryside and dying just outside Athens.
The Greek myths, unlike theological texts such as the Talmud, Bible and Koran, are incredibly flexible and varied, altering from city to city, as well as over time. Just how much people believed or accepted them will never be known, but many people would have been aware of the more famous myths.
Many myths that involve retribution, such as are found in Ovid’s ‘Metamorphosis’ are read as cautionary tales. Someone, a mortal, displayed a weakness that was so offensive they were punished. Some punishments were extremely harsh, but the reason could be clearly discerned. But how to understand Oedipus ? What, in fact was his digression ?
His fate was stated before he had done anything wrong. Maybe he didn’t accept his parent’s explanation, but that seems more contrary to Confucianism and filial piety. Greek myths are full of family in-fighting. He refused to yield to the carriage of King Laius and that pride led to fighting and murder, yet that could be attributed to self defense. Oedipus’ only fault seems to have been simply existing. Laius angered the gods. Why punish the son ?
I have read that some contemporary Greeks apparently thought the same, and began questioning the veracity of gods, myths and society. Such a harsh punishment for a young man who had rid a city of a curse made little if any sense. The psychological trauma would be unimaginable, which may explain the need to self mutilate, physical pain to numb the mental anguish.
To conclude, I am left to assert that Oedipus’ only crime was to try to defeat fate, to have the hubris to feel that a mere mortal, a king’s son notwithstanding, had the power to change the will of the gods. He honoured his father and mother but at the expense of the Immortals. Oedipus refused to accept his fate, for that he was doomed.
What else could Oedipus have done ? Should he have ignored the prophecy, or resign himself to the outcome ? The debate continues.
Unfortunately, we have to say goodbye to another beloved musician. Last Tuesday Charlie Watts drummer with the Rolling Stones passed away in London.
I was lucky enough to see the Stones twice, in football grounds (Wembley in London, and in Copenhagen), but I also saw Charlie in a much smaller London theatre where he performed a tribute to Jazz legend Charlie Parker. Apart from being a Rock ‘n’ Roll legend, Charlie was a Jazz lover, and played with small groups and big bands.
Stones guitarist Keith Richards posted this image:
You are standing outside the Palace, at the corner of Birdcage Walk. You want to get to (go to) Victoria Station.
Excuse me, how do I get to Victoria Station ?
Walk straight down Buckingham Palace Road. Walk across the street and you can’t miss it (you will see it easily).
You are outside the front door of Harrods and want to visit the Royal Albert Hall
WELCOME TO LEYTONSTONE
Leytonstone is an area in east London, and was the birthplace of the film director Alfred Hitchcock, footballer David Beckham and singer Damon Albarn of the band Blur.
Next, asking for local directions:
Sorry to bother (disturb) you, but I’m looking for a pub. Is there one near here ?
Yes, there is one quite close, ‘The Birkbeck Tavern’, maybe five or ten minutes’ walk away. Turn left until you come to Bridge Street. Turn left again, and keep walking, past the park, until you reach the bridge. Cross over, and Bob’s your uncle (there you are). It’s on the corner, you can’t miss it.
NOW: A local map
You are in LISTER ROAD (at the bottom) and want to get to GROVE ROAD.
Take turns asking each other questions.
The red circle with a blue band is the symbol for an underground station, which we call ‘The Tube.’ Here is Leytonstone Tube:
Plan a day
What would you like to do, where would you like to visit ?
Things to consider:
Time / lunch / travelling around / a variety of activities
In our last blog lesson, we focused on what we needed to do BEFORE travelling to the States, all the boring logistics and organising, booking and planning. Now … we are all set. All we have to do is select which city to visit.
Which of these destinations are most appealing to you and why ?
Boston is the capital of Massachusetts and gateway to New England. One of America’s oldest cities, it’s steeped in history – brimming with cobblestone streets and significant heritage sites – as well as gleaming skyscrapers.
Unlike many other US cities, it’s best explored on foot. One of the most popular tours is the Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile path that passes 16 important sites, including America’s first state school, the oldest church in Boston, and several markers that tell the story of the American Revolution.
The tour is greatly enhanced by the costumed guides, who’ll passionately transport you back to the 1700s during the 90-minute walk.
Chicago, my kind of town! A unique city with a character all of its own, Chicago offers a wide variety of shopping, dining, museums, theatre, music and nightlife options.
Chicago is on Lake Michigan, boasts over 20 miles of beachfront and some of the most dynamic and visually stunning architecture in the world. The city is famous for its skyscrapers such as the Hancock Building and the Willis Tower, which features several glass-bottomed ledges at 1,300ft above the city streets, making it a fantastic photo opportunity for the brave!
North Michigan Avenue is also known as the “Magnificent Mile” as this is where most visitors and residents come to shop, with firm favourites lining the street such as Tiffany, Nike and Nordstrom.
San Francisco indulges the senses with the wonderful array of scenic beauty, arts, museums, bars, restaurants and nightlife. San Francisco is famously known as the “City on the Bay” and its stunning location and undulating surroundings have been taking visitor’s breath away for centuries.
Enjoy fresh seafood and spot playful sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf, a fun and family-friendly district of the city; dine on authentic dim sum in the vast Chinatown or join the crowds of shoppers amidst the bustle and cable cars of Union Square.
No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a visit to the infamous prison at Alcatraz island. Rent a bicycle and ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito for a scenic day out and fantastic photo opportunities; brave Lombard Street, the “crookedest street in the world” or bring many movie favourites to life as you stroll the city streets.
San Francisco is the perfect destination for exploring and creating new memories in, with world-class sports, dining and adventure.
Before you watch this video, what do you know about San Francisco ?
Which of the sights mentioned in the guide do you see ?
What really struck you (impressed) about San Francisco ?
What was intriguing (interesting, fascinating) ?
What did you make of (think of) the architecture ?
Did you see any mouth-watering (delicious) food ?
What adjectives would you use to describe San Francisco ?
Make your comments stronger, and increase your English, by adding adverbs.
In the UK, it a pagan celebration. In other countries, it is more political.
[pagan = a religion where many gods may be worshipped and dating back before Christianity]
The first mention of a May Day celebration dates back to the Roman times, and a celebration of the goddess Flora.
This would be a festival over several days, and included theatre performances.
May Day continued to be associated with fertility and the worship of mythological or pagan gods. The celebrations would often involve dancing around a maypole, and crowning a May Day Queen.
A modern may pole, this one from Sweden, where it is now used to celebrate Midsummer, not the traditional 1st May.
Britain has a long tradition of May Day celebrations, from at least the C15th. However, many church leaders objected to the pagan origins (worshipping old gods, not the one Christian God) and celebrations were banned in many places.
Today, May Day celebrations are not so popular, and in cities, one is more likely to see political demonstrations, than prancing on the village green
In 1889, 1st May was selected as the International workers’ Day
What do you think about these photos ? Political, or cultural ?
How about these photos from Nigeria, UK and Hawaii ?
In Hawaii, May Day is a little different. The flower necklaces, or leis, are given to people as a sign of friendship, celebrating the culture of Hawaii or the ‘aloha spirit.’
The festival is celebrating in school and communities, with many free concerts, dancing, guest speakers and food.
However, it is not all peace and love:
Protesters clash with police in Berlin, Germany.
During the time of the USSR, May Day parades were held, with seemingly endless displays of tanks, soldiers, missiles and weapons of all description.
In Hong Kong in 2019, protesters used May Day to demonstrate about bad working conditions.
In Literature, we have the American writer Nathaniel Hawthorn, ‘The Maypole of Merry Mount’: