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Tonight is Walpurgisnacht. Beware of low-flying witches!



The eve of the feast of St. Walpurga (or Walburga) coincides with Beltane, and was seen as a day to avoid the Brocken in the Harz Mountains at all cost. Witches came from all over to honor the devil and get into mischief (or plan mischief). Having been to the area, I can attest that it can be a bit eerie in places. The Holy Roman Emperors (Ottonians as well as earlier) had to keep soldiers posted there to discourage the Saxons from backsliding into paganism.


Medieval City Residence

Stadtluft macht frei.

A lot of terms and conditions applied, and the details were the hard part. How do you stay for a year in a small city where everyone has to have a sponsor, a pass, a place, a confraternity, and a job? Where everyone knows each other? And where, if things got rough, you’d be the first one kicked out to “root, hog, or die,” with the emphasis on die? It didn’t stop people from trying, but it was hard. And even then you might be free, but you still were not a citizen, and would be the second one kicked out when trouble came.

We’re used to cities where you can come and go at will, stay overnight if you can find a room or a campsite, and no one demands to know who you are and what right you have to be in, oh, Versailles KY, or Peachtree City, GA, or Chadron, NE. That’s a very modern change. For two thousand years or so, to be in a true city was to be inside walls. Walls had gates. To pass through the gates, unless something very, very special was in progress, meant that you had verifiable business in the city and someone to speak for you, or a letter of permission. No pass? No enter. Once you came in, you went where you were supposed to, did what you were there for, and departed before the closing of the gates. If you stayed for the night, you had to register and stay in that one place. The authorities got and kept a list of who was where, and why.

We assume that you are free to move, unless you are not. Back then, it was the other way around. Only the politically powerful or a few clergy and monks had real freedom of movement, and even then there were conditions and understandings. A free city could lock out the local bishop, or even the emperor (or lock up the emperor if he didn’t pay his bills. See Bruges for details.) Modern Europe is going back a little to “you’re not really free to go anywhere, maybe,” or so it seems at times.

In some ways the medieval city pass was very much like when I was in university in Germany. I had to register with the local police, and got a very elaborate two-page document of permission in my passport saying that I was in town for a valid cause and should be left alone unless I misbehaved. The university also kept a list of who was attending, from where, and on what program/visa/sponsorship.

In order to move to a city and life there full time, you needed to show that you would earn your keep and not be a professional beggar. Or that you had a connection inside the city who would keep you out of trouble (basically post a bond for you). In some places, you had to be approved by your guild, religious confraternity, or monastic order to remain as a journeyman or to join the local ranks. In other places, the town council checked up on people. This meant that “going to the city to look for work” was often a challenge, with a few exceptions. Cities rebuilding after an attack, or after the Plague dropped the population, or international port cities, sometimes had a little more space. But not much.

If a serf, villain, or bound peasant could stay in an imperial free city for a year and a day, he or she was free from any earlier feudal ties. That meant hiding, finding work, staying out of trouble, and praying that nothing happened to cause the city leaders to force out all non-citizens. Once the stranger passed the year and a day point, he was a free man. Which meant that he had even fewer protections and fall-backs than a serf or bound peasant. And he could still be ejected from within the walls.

Someone could live all their lives in a city but not earn citizenship. Once an individual had citizenship, he (more rarely she) participated in juries and government, in civic defense, in religious events, and contributed money and labor to keeping the place running. Oh, and he had the right of protection when war/famine/plague struck. To lose citizenship and be cast out was pretty much a death sentence. Such rights did not come easily, and required proving that you had value to the city as a whole. People like Alberich Dürer and others made special note when they were granted citizenship of a city, and the fact was noted in the municipal records. Stadtluft might bring freedom for a few, but it brought more expectations and duties than a modern urban resident might imagine.

How many people would want to live in a place today if they had to serve on the police and in the National Guard and Fire Department, serve on a jury on a regular business, pay extra taxes, attend a place of worship at least twice a week AND teach religious classes and contribute to suppers and charity works, and show proof of solvency and good behavior?

Saturday Snippet: The Lady and the Wolves

Arnauld d’Loup and his lieutenants study Comtessa Leoni’s lands. With a little help.

Arnauld de Loup bowed. “Then we accept your offer, Comtessa. We will stay and defend your lands, per the contract offered.” Food, shelter, arms, a little coin, and permission to wed if any of the local women and their families agreed—it was far better than their last contracts.

“Good. A drink to seal the bargain.” She snapped her fingers, and her servants began handing out cups of watered wine. That was, it had best be watered, so early in the day was it. Arnauld accepted a plain pottery cup. The seigneuresse drank from fine silver, silver probably mined on the d’Vosges lands. Once all the officers had cups, she raised hers. “To the Wolf’s Paws.”

“The Paws,” the men chorused, then drank. They would give the men their pay-share later, after Arnauld and the other officers signed the contract. She’d sent a copy the month before, seeking them out just as they ended their time with the emperor’s forces on the Burgundian border. The Duke of Burgundy was supposed to be a vassal of the emperor, but he sometimes forgot. 

As they drank, Arnauld studied his new employer. Comtessa Leoni stood taller than he by a head or so, tall and shapely but not lean. She wore dark blue and brown, simple but fine stuffs with red and orange embroidery, and a widow’s cap under her delicate linen veil. A silver and copper chain hung around her neck, the flat links supporting a dark red stone. The chain showed her to be a powerful magic worker, something that explained why she had been able to hold the lands after her husband’s death. She lacked an heir, which explained why she had approached the Paws. Three maids and two old men acted as guards and escorts. The young men— They mined, farmed, or slept underground awaiting the Lord’s return. War had taken too many, and Seigneuresse Leoni needed men, men who could fight. Arnauld let the taste of the wine roll over his tongue before he swallowed. Heavy but not too bitter. Unwatered it might be too much, as most reds from this part of the Frankish lands seemed to be.

Once they finished, and signed or marked the contract, the countess said, “Captain, I would that you and two of your lieutenants came with me to my workroom, to see the borders of the d’Vosges lands.” She touched the pendant on her chain. “I lack the strength to show more than three.”

He caught the meaning. “Certainly, Seigneuresse. Bjorn Najalson and Gaston de Akize.” They could tell Karl Von Saxe, Jean Niger, and the others. He turned to the other officers, “Unless you prefer someone else?”

Head-shakes answered. Karl frowned a little, but did not object. It likely had more to do with the open use of magic than not being included.

Arnauld turned his attention back to the countess. “Gaston, Bjorn, and me, Seigneuresse.”

Fair, red-gold eyebrows rose, but she said nothing.  Servants took the empty wine cups. Comtessa Leoni gestured, and the three followed her out of the great hall, down a long corridor, then up the steps of the south tower. The keep had been well maintained, and a few hangings draped the walls between arrow-slits and one glass window. The window faced the inner courtyard, of course. The steps turned opposite what he’d expected, and Arnauld almost tripped.

“Left-handed, Captain,” Bjorn said. He smiled and mimicked drawing his sword. For once he had room to move.

Arnauld nodded, then climbed. The white-painted walls bore a few pictures of saints and hunting scenes. Two servants accompanied the countess, as did her senior maid. The countess unlocked a door and they entered. The servants bowed and returned to the flat area outside the chamber.

Four long tables stood along the walls at the four directions, between the arrow-slits, and a fifth table stood in the center of a circle marked on the floor. A book, containers of strange things, a piece of unicorn horn, and metal things littered the tables. He noted a sword and dagger, both small enough for a boy or a woman. Arnauld glanced out the openings, as did his lieutenants. He pursed his lips. The trees came closer than he preferred. Perhaps there was a reason. He would have to see for himself.

“Here, Captain,” the countess commanded. Arnauld turned and joined her and the others at the center table. A clear globe of glass, perhaps as large as his two hands held with the tips together, rested atop a carved wooden stand. He stared, eyes wide, as mist swirled inside the glass, grey and as thick as the fogs of sea. “You see it as it should be,” she told them. She studied the sphere, then removed her gloves and held her bare hands on either side of the wooden stand, as if she cradled the glass without touching it.

The mist swirled, then took a different form and color. “You see as an eagle sees,” the countess said. Bjorn and Gaston made the Cross. Arnauld leaned forward, watching as green and grey grew solid. “The river border, on the southern edge.” Fields, river forest, and marshes spread to the east of the tall ridge he’d seen as they rode in from the Rhine. The river flowed north, a series of curves and bends that extended north and south as far as the eye could see. The ridge moved, no, the eagle moved to the west. It made him feel almost dizzy.

Comtessa d’Vosges said, “The keep.” Sturdy brown and reddish-tan stone sat on the flat shoulder of a different ridge. The land dropped quickly to the south and west, less steeply to the north. The eagle turned north, following a trail to pastures and meadow, then a stream that grew to a small river. “This is the difficulty at present, Captain. The duke of Bar claims that his lands extend south of this river and mountain. The duke of Burgundy and count of Burgundy also claim lands west of the mountains. The king in Paris too claims suzerainty over these lands, but the d’Vosges family has always looked to the emperor, since Karl the Great.”

The three men nodded. “In the last division, these lands went to the empire, or so we were told, Seigneuresse.” Gaston frowned as he studied the glass. “That has not changed?”

“Not in the time of my husband, his father, or his father, when the last heir of Charlemagne’s blood sat on the throne of Rome.” She lowered her hands and mist filled the glass sphere once more. “Given that the king in Paris also claims all of Burgundy and the southern lands held by the Moors—?” She turned one hand palm up, and half-smiled as she left the rest unspoken.

Arnauld inclined toward her. “Indeed, Seigneuresse.” The mines of the Vosges produced silver, lead, and copper, all highly sought after. The lands also had good sheep, timber and charcoal, and a few other things.

She pulled her gloves back on. Bjorn nodded, as if he had expected the action. The soldiers followed her out of the work room. She closed the door. Arnauld sensed something run around the door, perhaps. They did not linger. The countess dismissed them once they returned to the main audience chamber and collected their men’s pay.

Once out in the warm September sun, Arnauld turned to Bjorn. “What saw you?” he asked.

The big north-man bared tusk-like teeth in a smile behind his pale beard. “The gloves keep her power in, like the animal-callers in the north. It is a powerful magic, but one that can overwhelm body and soul.” The smile faded. “At least it can for those who call down the great ice bears and northern wolves.”

“Huh.” Gaston blinked, then shrugged. “If we see ice bears, it’s time to stop drinking.”

“Aye that!” The broad smile returned, and a large, calloused hand slapped the Aquitanian on the shoulder. “Or throw the steersman out of the boat to the bears.”

Arnauld smiled even as he shivered inside. He’d seen the hide of one of those bears. He did not want to fight anyone who took that power for his own in battle. Bjorn was deadly enough when he went bear-mad. And that had nothing to do with finding quarters for the rest of the Wolf’s Paws and paying them before they decided to pay themselves with someone else’s wine or ale.

(C) 2023 Alma T. C. Boykin All Rights Reserved

Bourbon, Cwm Rhondda, Llangolfin, Ein Feste Burg

Confused yet? Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of tune names in many hymnals. Sacred Harp and its derivatives often had tune names that leave people scratching their heads: what does this have to do with Boston, or Charleston, anyway?

When you thumb through the tune names section of a hymnal, you will find that the names are the first words of the original text (“Herrlibster Jesu,” “Ein Feste Burg,” “Veni Immanuel”) or the Psalm tune from the Geneva Psalter (Old 100, Old 113). Occasionally the title comes from a folk-tune name (Captain Kidd, aka “Wondrous Love,” Ash Grove, Slane, Ar Hyd Y Nos). Sometimes the name is jettisoned because “Star of the County Down” is probably not a great tune name, besides being long. A few are renamed because the folk-tune inspiration had a text that was, hmm, less than traditionally devout (see “Captain Kidd.”) Some Sacred Harp tunes also nod to the original text, such as “Promised Land” – “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks” – which has a chorus of “We’re bound for the promised land.” Holy Manna is another tune like that “…holy manna will be showered all around.” “Morning Trumpet” includes the phrase “And shall hear the trumpet sound in the morning” in the chorus and verses.

Cwm Rhondda and Llangolfin are both Welsh tunes. The first one is probably better known “Guide me, o thou great Jehovah.” Some Welsh and other tune names are translated, but these were not. Methodists tend to have a number of the Welsh titles, because the Methodist Movement really caught fire in Wales in the late 1700s, and almost replaced the Church of England among the ordinary working folk. Rhondda was a valley in Wales known to the composer, who was Welsh.

“Sicilian Mariner” was attributed to sailors from Sicily. It probably didn’t come from there, but no one’s going to argue now. “The Austrian Hymn” was written by Hayden for the imperial court in Vienna, so the name does fit (“Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken” or “Deutschland Über Alles”).

American hymns, namely those written by American composers and often found in collections like The Sacred Harp or Southern Harmony have names from all over the map – literally. A lot of them are city names, but might have nothing to do with the city. Charleston, Boston, Abbeville, Fairfield, Corinth, Liverpool, Detroit, Nashville … “Bellevue” might be one of the familiar ones, since it is incorporated in the modern setting of “How Firm a Foundation.”

And no, I don’t know how “Bourbon” became a tune name, although the off-kilter part of me wonders if the composer had indulged too much in said liquid and had a conversion experience. Alas, more likely, it was named for the French Bourbon, like the place and the dynasty.

Lotharingia: The Land In-between

It survives as Lorraine, or in German. Otherwise, the central division of Charlemagne’s Empire (Holy Roman Empire 1.0) exists only as a name in textbooks, or for some historians, an unfortunate blot on the copybook of the Carolingian Dynasty. “If only they’d centralized earlier, like France or Britain, Germany would have been Grrrreeeaaat!” And, depending on the 19th Century historian, the Germans might also have stood up to the Popes and become Protestant by AD 1200 CE.

Lotharingia stretched from the mouths of the Rhine (the southern side of the Scheldt, wherever it happened to be) to Lake Geneva, more or less. Most of the area I’m interested in runs from what is now Belgium to the Swiss border, in other words, the Rhine Rift Valley and the upthrust mountains to the west.

Charlemagne was a war-leader of the Franks before he was Holy Roman Emperor, King of the Germans, et cetera. The Franks followed traditional law, not primogenitor, so the female offspring got moveable goods (household stuff, dowry) and perhaps some chattels, and the male offspring got land. All the legitimate male offspring. Charlemagne ended up with only one son who outlived his father, so the Carolingian empire stayed intact. That heir had three sons who between them had to divide up the land and titles. Lothair/Lothar, and his son Lothair/Lothar, got the central portion between West Francia (France, sort of, kinda, ish) and East Francia (the German lands and whatever to the east the emperor managed to wrest from the Saxons, Avars, Magyars, Danes . . .) Oh, and Lothar also got northern Italy, but that’s a whole different story, and fell into the Holy Roman Empire 2.0 once the Carolingians died out. As much as it ever was part of the empire.

By the rough time of “The Wolf’s Paws and the Ice Lion,” the area around the West Frankish side of the Vosges Mountains was a grab-bag of duchies, counties, church lands, and who-knows-what roughly divided between the Empire, the Duchy of Upper and Lower Lorraine, the Duchy of Burgundy (nominally imperial but …) the County of Burgundy, the Duchy of Bar, the County of Champagne, and the Church. I’m carving out the County of the d’Vosges family out of the Duchy of Upper Lorraine and some other bits and pieces. It’s an area with mines, mineral springs and hot springs (did I mention the Rhine Rift?), fuel wood and other wood, and some really nasty magical residue that everyone with a brain tries to avoid.

In reality, our reality, the area changed hands fairly often. The Rhine was not a set border the way it is today, but a passageway, a highway, with lots of shifting free cities, counties, duchies, church territories, and so on along the edges. The river also shifted, looking more like the Mississippi, with lots of S-curves, sandbars, bends, and marshes that shifted into forests and then hills. That didn’t stop trade or people intent on claiming the river’s benefits. As the kings of France grew more ambitious in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, and as the lower Rhine became amazingly rich, and as the Dukes of Burgundy harassed everyone around them, it became a battleground. It would also divide up into smaller administrative units than in the time I’m playing with.

Today, the area is neatly divided – sort of – between France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. The name lingers as a bit of a ghost, sort of like Prussia. The region is tidy, quiet, prosperous, and full of ghosts of places and languages past.

Simon Widner,’s book, Lotharingia, is OK. He’s breezier in this than in Danubia, and I get frustrated in spots with his self-contradictions. However, it is the only English-language book I have found this far to cover the area’s history as a unit.

Stay On Your Clef!

So there we were, trying to semi-sightread the second movement of the Chichester Psalms. I say semi because about a third of us had sung it before. That doesn’t make it easier, especially for the men.

Normally, the solo comes first, then the women in a canon, then the men, then everything else. We were starting in the middle, for Reasons.

The men begin the rehearsal run by just doing their part, which comes in after the initial theme. They half-chant the Hebrew text of Psalm 2 (“Why do the nations rage and the heathen imagine vain things?”) The notes and rhythm are harsh, angry, and insistent. Then a soprano, boy or woman, comes back in with a slow, gentle floating recitation of Psalm 23 (“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want …”) Then the rest of the women come in, echoing the soloist.

(The men’s part starts at 3:08 in)

We had not set a soloist yet, so all the sopranos who felt like it were to come in on the repeat of the solo line, then shift to our proper part. The guys were being angry and fast, as best they could since they were sight-reading a hard part. The cue came, the sopranos inhaled …

And a high, straight-tone part came from NOT the soprano section. We turned en-herd to glower at that most smug of beasts, the countertenor. This particular gent has the purest falsetto for an adult male of almost anyone I know. And he was hogging our solo!

He smirked and subsided, allowing the women to come in.

Tenors. Grrrrr.


April 25 is honored as ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand, and in other places where the military from those countries happens to be. It recognizes the veterans and honored dead of Australia and New Zealand, and is as solemn as Remembrance Day for some.

Image Source:

Ceremonies to honor Australia and New Zealand’s war dead began in 1916, as the First World War still raged. April 25 became an official day of solemn commemoration and remembrance in 1927. Today there is a two-part commemoration. The dawn service is a very somber, quiet ceremony, often religious. Later in the day come marches and larger commemorations and perhaps celebrations, along with football and rugby games. It is a more sober day in some ways than is Memorial Day in the US, much closer to Remembrance Day in Great Britain and Canada.

Honoring the day has not been without some controversy as time passed from WWI and WWII, and culture changed somewhat. Recent years have seen a resurgence in honoring ANZAC Day by the general population.

Soldiers, sailors, airmen, and other military members from Australia and New Zealand took part in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and many other conflicts as part of the United Nations, and to keep peace or assist in restoring peace (East Timor) and to aid in disaster relief in the Pacific.

A salute to all Australians and New Zealanders who served, who are still serving, and those who fell in the field of valor.

Saint George’s Day

By the western church calendar, today is the feast of St. George. He’s the patron saint of the military, and of England and Catalonia. The George Cross is part of the Union Jack flag, although today celebrating the feast in England is sometimes considered suspect, unless it is a purely religions and private veneration.

This is the statue I did NOT get to see when I was in Lübeck, Germany in 2017. It is St. George doing in a very sincere dragon indeed! It is a copy of a statue in Sweden, carved by and artist from Lübeck. Source:

St. George is one of those saints that lacks firm written sources, and is considered a wee bit suspect by the Roman Catholic Church. He remains popular in the Eastern Orthodox churches, and in the Church of England (or at least with followers of the Church of England.) There’s also a city in Utah named for him, which makes me giggle a bit. He’s not exactly the same sort of Saint as the Saints, Latter-day, who founded the town.

I want a copy for my church, but I don’t think the decorating committee would agree. Or the fire marshal. From:–330381322638029098/

St. George is thought to have been martyred on April 23, AD 303. He was born in what is now western Turkey, and since his father was a Roman soldier, he had to go into the army (like St. Martin of Tours, and several others.) The official version of the story is that he was martyred for refusing to make the sacrifices required by Diocletian’s anti-Christian edicts. There are no dragons in the official version. Alas.

The popular version is that George was in northern Libya, where a dragon had moved in, taken over a spring, and was killing the locals, their livestock, and everything else in the area. Various young ladies were offered to the dragon in hopes of appeasing it. George arrived and said that he, with the help of G-d, would deal with the beast. He did, did not ask to marry the young lady of the day, but instead preached the Gospel and converted the people.

In some versions of the story, he killed a dragon in England as well, thus he is the patron of England, as St. Andrew is the patron of Scotland and St. David (Dawi Sant) protects Wales. (Before George it was St. Edmund the Martyr.)

There was a much more elaborate, highly unofficial version, of the story of St. George that I have only heard and seen once, and that was in a chapel in a castle in the Czech Republic. It is much more detailed, with further adventures, and includes George being killed three times and coming back to life twice. I can guess why that version does not appear in church art or the semi-official depictions of the saint.

St. George also appears as a character in the winter pantomimes (Pantos) in England. Some folklorists see him as a stand-in for the Green Knight, the Oak King, the symbol of summer, killed by the Holly King/winter.

Saturday Snippet: From”Rigi’s Wedding.”

This comes at the end of the (thus far unfinished) story. First, the inspiration for the scene.

The lyrics are nodded to in the story. This arrangement was made specifically for choir. Because most voices don’t have the range of the fiddle, the melody flows from soprano to tenor to baritone and back up.

The next waltz dated as far back as Rigi could guess. And it was one that seemed to be played at almost every military-sponsored dance Rigi had attended, although admittedly her sampling was not exactly large. Many of the younger couples left the floor, and all of the older pairs moved onto it. Uncle Eb and Aunt Kay, Rigi’s parents, Tomás’s parents, and others all began turning to the slow music.

“I don’t think I’ve ever really understood it before,” Tomás said quietly, so quietly that Rigi almost didn’t hear him. His eyes looked distant and sad, for some reason. When Rigi looked at the dancers, she realized that tears had begun running down Aunt Kay’s face, and Uncle Eb had pulled her closer, even though she seemed to be smiling. Her mother too looked as if she were about to weep, and Mrs. Prananda as well. Then Rigi remembered the words to “Ashokan Farewell,” words she’d only heard once or twice, words about leaving and dancing and parting perhaps forever. She shivered. Tomás pulled her closer, holding her as if he would never, ever let her go.

She’d assumed that Mrs. Prananda and Aunt Kay had been metaphorical when they talked about waiting and being ready to hear bad news. Oh no. How many times had General Prananda and his men departed, leaving their wives and families to wait, leaning on memories and hope and faith? Even more for Aunt Kay, even though she’d been at Uncle Eb’s side some of the time, or so Rigi had guessed over the years. Even her mother, who had married Mr. Bernardi while he was still in the Reserves. And now, with the new threat from the stars? Would she and Tomás be parted? Of course they would, that was part of being a military wife, but parted forever? The alien intruders had come close on the Night of Falling Birds, too close, despite what the Navy accomplished.

“No, my lady,” Tomás whispered. “I’m here. I will always be with you,” he touched her chest with his fingertips, “Here.” He caressed her cheek. “And here,” he tapped the side of her head, just below the bridal crown. “Always and ever.” They kissed again, and she rested her head on his shoulder as they watched the dancers circle. The last notes sounded and Uncle Eb pulled Aunt Kay very close indeed, kissing her. Rigi’s father lifted a tear from her mother’s face, and Rigi glanced away from Gen. and Mrs. Prananda, who had forgotten that there were other people in the room.

(C) 2021, 2023, Alma T. C. Boykin All Rights Reserved.

Perfection and its Discontents

The on-line world has an excess of perfection. Now, before everyone who has wrestled with lousy code, bad web-sites, “AI” generated garble, and OttoCorrupt throws things at me, I’m thinking about a different part of the ‘Net. Various social media sites, and certain phone apps and functions, allow if not demand that everyone and everything be perfect. With Mary Poppins it was fiction, and readers sorted out that she was a wee bit more than human. For society today, it’s not so wonderful.

Back in the early 2000s, it was Instagram photos of meals. People graded restaurants and home cooks on the presentation, not the quality of the food, leading to complaints from the folks who actually cooked Ye Average Meal. Food had to be perfect, or else.

People have fussed about the unrealistic portrayal of others in movies and on TV and in magazines for a long time, especially once anorexia and body-image problems became better known. I remember one movie lady talking about how it took three hours of work for her to go from “I just got out of bed and am in pajamas” to “cover shot ready.” Vogue came under a lot of criticism, as did other fashion magazines. But most of us knew that those photos had been airbrushed, and the people were NOT your standard. 5’10” tall, 100 pounds, size 32 DD chest, wearing size 2 or 0 clothes is NOT standard.

Along came social media, with all the filters and built-in photo improvers in cameras. Landscapes can be more dramatic or colorful. And people as well. The pressure developed to be perfect when you posted on social media. First it was “pictures or you weren’t really there,” which contributed to ruining the southern European section of the Louvre Museum (for me at least) and to the “selfi-cide” problem. By 2021, “normal” photos were supposed to be improved, retouched, smoothed, and adjusted for near perfection. That’s not healthy.

Add in other parts of society, and a group of young people decided that they had to be perfect in all things, or they were failures. If they can’t do it right the first time, it is a disaster. If a person don’t look like his on-line presence – disaster. Life is a failure if at age whatever they cannot do everything flawlessly the first time. So people don’t try. They aim low.

I’m a perfectionist. I get it. But I also know that there are physical limits imposed by reality. I have never done anything right the first, second, third . . . time. But that’s in this reality, not the Internet. The Internet is perfect. Which is not good for those people who get caught up in it and think that Internet = reality.

Now we have all sorts of image processors, tools for manipulating videos to enhance or remove or adjust events and people. Art must be perfect, for whatever that means. Computer tools make that possible, or do they? How much of the imperfect artist is permitted anymore?

I don’t have a cure, or a solution.

Comments are disabled for this post. It is a think-piece more than for discussion.