“If He Wanted to He Would”: Why Our Consolations about Rejection are Usually Unhelpful and Wrong

This is interesting and useful too. I’ve been reading about the concept of narcissism and this seems much involved with your writing here. Thanks

Leon's Existential Cafe

“If he/she wanted to he/she would” is the most overused and misguided phrase in consolation. By saying it, the person on the other end attempts to provide his friend with tough-love, to say without saying: You need to move on. It’s akin to the saying: She’s just not that into you. Yet, most of the time, she’s just not that into anyone. But the tough-love crowd doesn’t seem to get it.

Romance has a multitude of barriers: income, self-image, fear of criticism from the prospective partner or one’s circle, fear of abandonment, fear of guilt, lack of sexual chemistry (which may be more internal than external), and so on. Yet, we’re keen on reducing rejection to the last barrier on that list and not only that, but to the version of sexual chemistry which implies that you just aren’t doing it for her/him. As you can imagine, this version of…

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Born February 23~ Broncia Koller-Pinell

Somehow reminds me of Whistler’s famous portrait of his mother.

The Misty Miss Christy

Broncia Koller-Pinell (February 23, 1863-April 26, 1934) was an Austrian Expressionist painter said to be the first to bring attributes of French Impressionism into Austrian painting.
Biography on Jewish Women’s Archive:

The Mother of the Artist by Broncia Koller-Pinell
1907 / Oil on canvas / 35 4/5″x30 1/2″ / Austrian Gallery Belvedere, Vienna, AT

Broncia Koller-Pinell on Artnet:

Further reading:
Broncia Koller-Pinell  1863-1934
Forgotten Females Found

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Art and Photographic History

Jacques Tissot’s sad mistress

Portrait of M.N.. Portrait of Mrs N..(Kathleen Newton). La Frileuse. by James J. J. Tissot, 1836-1902

“It is a work extreme delicacy yet great richness, of poetic quiet yet great emotion.” She is sad and shivering, indeed she is very unwell. The full story may be found at

This clip may give some idea of the range of Tissot’s oeuvre.

My personal response to Tissot

There are two factors which have drawn my attention to Tissot recently. Firstly, reading various books and articles by Julian Barnes, who is well versed in French Artists of the Nineteenth Century. Secondly there are particular paintings of his that are especially intriguing. Especially those that seem to show early relationships between the French and English in London. However, more importantly, I seem to remember small illustrated texts from Sunday School back in the 1950s whose subject matter were similar in style and content to those religious paintings that seem to have taken up much of Tissot’s time. Finally, there is of course the insight into the times that these Tissot paintings give.


Returning to a coffee shop

He doesn’t look too happy does he? But at least, although somewhat contorted in posture and attracting the attention of others, he has his coffee strong and black. He invokes a strong feeling of nostalgia for a seemingly lost world. In this case the mittel europa of the 1920s. He may even have a croissant at his elbow. I particularly like the evocation of the blue-violet-brown of the enclosing satin draping. This work is by the little known Croatian artist -Young Man in a Cafe, c.1923 by Marijan Trepše (1897 – l964). Born into the latter days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, you may read more about this artist and how he travelled to Prague via Paris at

It is unsurprising, looking at this painting, to read that this expressionist later became a significant set designer.

Image result for zagreb 1900

Using the magical utility of a reverse image search. There is a very useful such device a TinEye. I happened upon the following:-

Image result for Almada-Negreiros
Self-portrait in a group 1925 by Almada Negreiros

A larger version by this intriguing Portuguese artist may be found at

Much as I miss the congenial and convivial ambience of just sitting around and chatting away with friends, these characters do not exactly look very warm types. Their faces are mask like and reminiscent of harlequins. We certainly have had enough of face-masks. It is interesting how the hands link across the table but touch perhaps slightly. There seems something of considerable interest off-frame to the right. Nevertheless, something of considerable artistic import is being discussed. The juxtaposition of the feet seems a little more cosy and relaxed. It is the combination of tones such as the contrast between the brown of one gent and the blue of the artist which I find attractive.

It is interesting to compare and contrast these two painters who might well have met up over un petit café noir in Montmartre in the 1920s. They would certainly have much to talk about if they could converse easily.


Un petit café noir: A small black coffee

Missing out on my coffee in company at the moment!!

Between Two Tides.

Rose glow of ambience, turned faces recognise, smiles and greetings made. Hands reach out, cheek to cheek kisses, “Bonjour” and “Ça va” spoken. “Un petit café noir, si’l vous plait”. “A small black coffee please”.

A chair is offered, news exchanged, dialogue and dispute, advice and acrimony. Journal passed in turn, maybe a game of Belotte (cards). Another round of coffees, morning ritual slowly ends. “A demain matin”, “See you tomorrow morning”.


In Le Monseg’ Jean Mi drinks his coffee

When Jean Louis joins him feeling lucky

He takes out his card

And scratches it hard

Youpy, won a euro on the lottery.


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About #usktalks on YouTube

Very interesting and dynamic. Most of my recent sketches seem to be view from windows etc.etc.

Paula Lourenço sketching

last Sunday i watched a conversation on YouTube with #Pedromacloureiro and #nina_sketching about sketching. They gave fantastic tips and launched a challenge: drawing the path we take at home with a cup of coffee in hand. I loved the idea and this drawing came out. To better mark the path I used the color only on the coffee mug and the rest of the drawing was black and white. Despite having used arrows to show the way, there is no need to do it with this technique of highlighting the main character, which in this case is the coffee mug.

Everyone should watch the YouTube video and get to know the fantastic work of these two great sketchers. Pedro macloureiro is Portuguese and nina_sketching is Swedish, and I really like their work. They are really engaged on sketching and everyone can watch their sketching vídeos no YouTube . I…

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February 2021 TBR

Which is the Stefan Zweig? A great writer imho! Hope you had a great Birthday and you prompted my memories for Vermouth which I seem to remember was a favourite tipple of W.H.Auden!

Reading and Watching the World: Books, Film and Art

I had a birthday this week, so my TBR pile, officially already out of control, has become even more so.

Four books arrived from my parents, I unwrapped a book each from my son and my youngest daughter, and a pal dropped off a book, so my new pile looks like this (including the two books at the front that I was already reading):

I’m expecting to review the French TV series Call My Agent for the blog this month, plus Tahmima Anam’s first novel ‘A Golden Age’, set in Bangladesh, and Jacob Ross’s Caribbean crime novel ‘The Bone Readers’. I’ll also be looking at the work of Malian photographer Seydou Keita and reviewing a heart-warming romantic movie from Niger.

Meanwhile, in a little extra birthday news, my eldest daughter made me a fab frog cake, and I have some daffodils blooming in my little kitchen. Enjoying some simple…

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foto uit Spaarnestadarchief, tijdschrift Het leven kleiner Image from a Dutch magazine “Het Leven” (via Spaarnestadt Archive).

Here is a typical Berlin Balkonia, little man’s and woman’s green paradise, in its rooftop edition: as a small garden and a chicken-pen.
This model example of self-sufficiency was necessary to survive dire food-shortages of the First World War – shortages which were particularly acute in the capital and led to long periods of starvation not only among the poorest. Many Berlin children did not survive those and if they did, they often suffered their consequences – mentally and health-wise – for the rest of their lives.
This idyllic image is a witness to a very bitter truth: that unless you were able to provide your own food yourself, your family was in danger. And that in 99% of the cases this responsibility had to be shouldered by women – whose children were at great risk.

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Colonnades and Balconies

When I read Cyril Connolly’s collection “The Evening Colonnade” some considerable time ago, I was as impressed by the writings but also the cover, the title having been derived from a poem of Pope on Lady Mary Wortley Montagu:-

“What are the gay parterre, the chequer’d shade

The morning bower, the ev’ning colonnade

But soft recesses of uneasy minds

To sigh unheard in, to the passing winds?”

I imagine that many a his moment feel a sense of isolation and confinement that make an impact on our uneasy minds. So in a sense of splendid and slightly superior sense of looking down on events I came across a very interesting poem by Derek Mahon in his New Selected Poems (page 108) called Balcony of Europe. It is dedicated to Aidan and Alannah Higgins. So this is a poem about a novel with the title written to the author and his wife. There is a new imprint of the original book which is about Spain as discussed in the Irish Times, some two years ago.

However, when I first read the poem the view I conjured up was of some Eastern European Country after the fall of some dictator. The first stanza reads:-

The dictator’s portrait dominated the airport

in those days, the first thing you noticed

after the cold police; his arms, a vivid

fistful of forked lightning, blazed

on the bus station and the road north-east

to the olive hills where the novelist lived.

The kitchen tap gave only a dry cough;

it was pitch black up there with the light off.

This short poem has underlying classical themes and moves from the darkness under the dictator to light and liberation. it is a metamorphosis in which not only does time move on but also seeing a youngster on the beach the poet from a bar filled with music invokes a somewhat scary but idyllic antiquity.

when she wasn’t just a girl but a creature

of myth, a Phoenician king’s abducted daughter

with a white bull between her knees,

borne out to a sun-white sea shaking with fear

and exhilaration, far from her shocked sisters,

gripping the horns, clutching the curly hair,

et tremulae sinuantur flamine vestes

(‘her floaty garments fluttering in the breeze’)

In praise of Aidan Higgins: six Irish writers and his publisher pay tribute
Aidan Higgins from The Irish Times

Tto mere is a very useful Open University site on classical links to modern poetry, and for the above poem see

Art and Photographic History Film Literature

Solitude and Nostalgia-the paintings of Valentin Serov

As someone has commented on You Tube underneath the above, “Wonderful , soulful, expression of Imperial Russia from many aspects just before the Black Curtain of the war that aesthetically affects us into our era!” There are even colour photographs of that strange era in Russia before the Revolution that show the huge contrasts in wealth and also the peaceful landscape which is evoked like a distant Edwardian Summer. Serov died in 1911 having left behind masterpieces of portraiture including his own famous self-portrait. His style was realistic and is still much beloved by the Russian people.

Russia in Original Photographs, 1860-1920 Paperback – 1 May 1983
by Marvin Lyons

I have just discovered this film which looks good too-

Nostalgia [DVD]

Finally there is an excellent paper, well worth thorough consideration by Stacey Novack called “The Politics of Nostalgia” at