Tag Archives: Summer

Edna St. Vincent Millay: Summer Sang In Me a Little While, That In Me Sings No More

9 Sep

One of my favourite poems these days is “What Lips My Lips Have Kissed, and Where, and Why” by the American poetess Edna St. Vincent Millay, originally published in November 1920. In this poem Millay looks back at all the “lips her lips have kissed” and she tries to remember where and why those kisses have occured. She compares the beating of the rain against the window to the ghosts of her memories, or ghosts of her dead (failed) love relationships, haunting her. In her heart “there stirs a quiet pain” when she realises that she cannot remember the names or the faces of the “lads” who will not shout out for her at night. The loves, just like summer, were vibrant but transitory and fragile, and unlike summer will not return next year. I feel like this is a moment of sobering up. After being drunk on life and drunk on love, she is alone and in a wistful, reflective mood, the rain outside her only companion. Now, summer has passed, love has passed, and she compares herself to a lonely tree in winter which used to be full of birds chirping and is now solitary, with no leaves or birdnests, utterly forgotten… Where does love go when it goes away? Were the kisses, now nought but pale memories, worth it in the end?

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Portrait of Elizabeth Siddal, 1854, watercolour

What Lips My Lips Have Kissed, and Where, and Why

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.

Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

My Inspiration for August 2022

31 Aug

This August I very much enjoyed rediscovering some wonderful and underappreciated seascapes by the Romantic painter John Constable, and also many other beach scenes by artists such as Maurice Prendergast, Eugene Boudin and Philip Wilson Steer… As you may have seen in my book review, I read Shirley Jackson’s novel “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” and I thought it was amazing, I also read and enjoyed Stephen King’s novel “It”, John Ajvide Lindquist’s vampire-novel “Let the Right One In”, Jack Kerouac’s “Dharma Bums”, poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay and Tennessee Williams. I’ve had moments of great inspiration, particularly for collages and playing with words, but also moments of intense waves of inexplicable sadness. I am now assured that Kierkegaard is right when he says; “do it or do not do it – you will regret both”, for which ever thing I choose in life, misery seems to come along with it. A desire fulfilled is always tinged with a regret for something else and a longing for something that’s lost. My biggest discovery this month is surely the Cannadian singer-songwriter Michelle Gurevich and her songs “Lovers Are Strangers” and “The First Six Months of Love” which I absolutely adore.

“Life was then brilliant; I began to learn to hope and what brings a more bitter despair to the heart than hope destroyed?”

(Mary Shelley, Mathilda)

“I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations — one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it — you will regret both.”
(Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or: A Fragment of Life)

“Why was life so unsatisfying? (…) Each smile hid a yawn of boredom, each joy a curse, each pleasure its own disgust; and the sweetest kisses only left on one’s lips a hopeless longing for a higher ecstasy.”
(Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert)

Picture found here. March 1995. ‘What makes a good finale? Gowns that look just as good on the way out.’

Picture: untitled by christanoelle.tumblr.com on Flickr.

Picture by Alex Murison, found here.

Picture found here.

Photo by Elisabeth Novick, 1970.

Picture found here.

Picture found here.

Picture found here.

A Meandering Path: A walk in the desert, Willwood Badlands, Wyoming

by riverwindphotography, March 2017

Picture found here.

Alexandra Spencer by Sybil Steele for Spell Designs February/March 2016

Picture found here.

Picture found here.

Picture found here.

Picture found here.

Thay Temple-  Hanoi, Vietnam 

farandaway.com

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Beach Scenes in Art: Maurice Prendergast, Winslow Homer, Berthe Morisot, Munch, Boudin, Joaquin Sorolla

29 Aug

“I am longing to be with you, and by the sea, where we can talk together freely and build our castles in the air.”

(Bram Stoker, Dracula)

Maurice Prendergast, Revere Beach, 1897, watercolour

These days my thoughts, like birds flying south, are going out to the sea – the wonderful blue sea that Rimbaud wrote about:

It has been found again.
What? – Eternity.
It is the sea fled away
With the sun.

I dream of pebbles on the beach, waves caressing my feet and sunsets so bright and orange that they leave me blind. Memories of past summers fill my mind; I see the wonderful blue sea trembling before my eyes, the steady yet wild waves, the silvery-white seafoam shining in the rays of sun, the salty scent of the sea tickling my nostrils and the sun warming my skin, a plethora of pebbles and parasols in many vibrant colours, the line which separates the sky and the sea is faraway and out of reach. Filled with all these memories, I thought I would write a little overview of some lovely beach scenes in art, mostly the art of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. When I say “beach scenes” I mean scenes of people enjoying their time by the sea, scenes of fun, games and leisure, not the melancholy scenes of beaches by the Romantic painters such as Caspar David Friedrich or John Constable, or those seventeenth century Dutch painters who portrayed the sea and ship in all their moodyness and wildness.

Winslow Homer, Beach Scene, circa 1869

Winslow Homer was a very prolific American painter whose watercolours of orchards and Caribbean seas I adore. In this oil on canvas painting called “Beach Scene” Homer combines his usual realistic style with some playful Impressionistic touches, especially in the way he explores the natural elements such as the sky, the sea, the seafoam… What I like a lot about this painting is the way the grey colour scheme is combined with the liveliness of the children playing; it’s a contrast which works wonderfully.

Berthe Morisot, At the Beach in Nice, 1882

The second artwork I’ve chosen is this lovely watercolour sketch by the French Impressionist painter Berthe Morisot. “At the Beach in Nice” shows a mother and a child under a blue parasol enjoying the vague sketch of what we assume is a beach by the title alone. This watercolour is more like a sketch; it seems to have been painted quickly, it’s more an impression of a moment rather than a contemplative study. There is a sand colour in the lower half of the painting and some blue in the upper half, indicating the sand and the sea. The mother and the child have almost matching blue bonnets, but they seem otherwordly in a way, like a memory or a dream, ghostly a bit.

Eugene Boudin, On the Beach, Trouville 1887

Now, it would be impossible to write a post about beach scenes and the sea without including a painting by the French marine painter Eugene Boudin. This time his painting “On the Beach, Trouville” from 1887 caught my eye. It doesn’t seem to be a sunny, hot day in this scene. The tones and styles of the ladies’ dresses are almost autumnal and the sea in the background is covered in a mist.

Philip Wilson Steer, Young Woman At The Beach, 1887

Philip Wilson Steer has many wonderful beach scenes and seascapes but the one I’ve chosen to include today is a painting called “Young Woman at the Beach”, painted in 1887. I love the lyrical simplicity of this painting: a girl seen from the profile, dressed in a lovely light pink gown, her dark hair flowing in the wind, looking out towards the sea – daydreaming or reminiscing about the gone by days… Her elegant silhouette is set against the background of the glistening sea and the soft vanilla sky. The way the light is painted here, the way it blinds the eyes and makes the waves sparkle with magic is something incredible. When I gaze at the girl in this painting, I can imagine her fantasising about some dream-lover far away and thinking: “I am longing to be with you, and by the sea, where we can talk together freely and build our castles in the air.”

William Merritt Chase, On the Beach, Shinnecock, 1895, watercolour

William Merritt Chase’s lovely watercolour “One the Beach, Shinnecock” from 1895 shows two girls playing in the sand. I love the way their dresses and bonnets are painted, so intensely delicate, like butterfly’s wings. The lonely landscape behind them stretches on and on, made out of sand and grass, making it seem that the girls are all alone in the world, building their castles in the sand, until the gust of September wind blows them away and destroys the fleeting fantasy forever.

Edvard Munch, Young Woman on the Beach, 1896

The wistful and melancholy vibe of Munch’s painting “Young Woman on the Beach” reminds me more of Caspar David Friedrich’s paintings. I mean, there is certainly no playfulness, leisure or joy here, but I still decided to include it because it shows that the sea can be a vessel not only for merriness but also for contemplation. The sea, with its eternal, never-changing, song of the seawaves, its persistence and its moodiness and changeability can awake all sorts of emotions inside of us. No words are needed to understand how this young woman feels because the painting says it all. The young woman’s back is turned against us and we can’t see her face, but we can feel what she is feeling and thinking, whilst standing here all alone by the sea, her silhouette in a white dress set against the infinite blueness of the beach.

Maurice Prendergast, Children at the Beach, 1897, watercolour

The sea was like a feast and forced us to be happy, even when we did not particularly want to be. Perhaps subconsciously we loved the sea as a way to escape from the land where we were repressed; perhaps in floating on the waves we escaped our cursed insularity.

(Reinaldo Arenas, Before Night Falls)

Now, another cheerful watercolour by Maurice Prendergast! The watercolour shows exactly what the title straightforwardly says: “Children at the Beach”. In Prendergast’s watercolour figures are often just blots of colour but this is what . No other painter can make the blue colour look so warm and cheerful; Prendergast’s blue is like yellow, it’s a sunflower or a ray of sun, he infuses it with a playful, carefree, childlike energy. I especially love the playful way the sky and the clouds are painted in this one, truly stunning way with the brush.

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, Niña (Girl), 1904

Joaquin Sorolla is known for his playful and realistic beach scenes were children are seen running around, chasing each other and playing, but something about his painting “Girl” from 1904 spoke to me more. While the children in the background are playing and running into the waves, she is standing in wet sand, the waves caressing her feet, and looking out to the horizon. Is she gazing at the clouds, or is a distant ship passing by? We will never know, but her dreaminess tingled with wistfulness is very poignant to me.

Denman Waldo Ross, The Beach, about 1908

The most interesting thing about Denman Waldo Ross’s painting “The Beach” is, for me, the composition: the way the sandy beach takes up most of the space on the canvas and that line of turquoise in the background indicating the sea. The figures on the beach, the ladies in white gowns, with their parasols and bonnets, are all placed in a cascade manner and this pattern is repeated in the turquoise and lilac-blue lines of the sea and the sky.

The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.”

(KIate Chopin, The Awakening)

Fashion Inspiration: Summer to Autumn…

24 Aug

Alexandra Spencer by Sybil Steele for Spell Designs February/March 2016.

 

 

 

Picture found here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Petticoat, February 1971

 

 

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My Inspiration for July 2022

31 Jul

This July I was into the Rust Belt, mostly through reading Anne Trubek’s collection of essay by different authors called “Voices from the Rust Belt” and Springsteen’s songs, floral print facades, horror films such as “It” (2017), “Creep” (2014) and “It Follows” (2014) and novels such as Stephen King’s Pet Sematary which I found particularly fascinating, the idea behind it especially, Charles Burchfield’s watercolour of strange, creepy buildings, Emil Nolde’s paintings of vibrant flowers, Edward Hopper’s paintings of lonely streets, acoustic version of the song “Joey” by Concrete Blonde which is very emotional, passionate and raw. I read two fascinating books that give a great analysis and commentary on the situation in the modern western world regarding GenZ especially; “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious by Jean M. Twenge and “I find that offensive” by Claire Fox.

“I am solitary as grass.
What is it I miss?
Shall I ever find it, whatever it is?”
(Sylvia Plath)

“It’s funny. I used to daydream about being old enough to go out on dates, driving around with my friends in their cars. I had this image of myself, holding hands with a really cute guy, listening to the radio, driving along some pretty road, up north maybe, and the trees start to change colors. It was never about going anywhere really. Just having some sort of freedom I guess. Now that we’re old enough, where the hell do we go?”
-It Follows (2014)

Romeo and Juliet mural, Shoreditch

This mural marks the site of original Shakespearean theatre and where Romeo and Juliet was first performed. It is unlike the typical street art found in Shoreditch, plenty of examples of which can be found on London Edge.

Thomasin McKenzie on set of ‘Last Night in Soho’. Photo by Greg Williams.

Little Castle by Martin
Via Flickr:
Loenen (NL)

Sarah Loven Photography

ig @labohemejulia.

Flower Valley in Himalaya by Samiran Sarkar, found here.

Instagram by elise.buch

Photo by Tom Leighton.

“Storm and Forest” by Samiran Sarkar.

Runaway Bride, Isabeli Fontana by Peter Lindbergh for Vogue Paris April 2012

My Inspiration for June 2022

30 Jun

This June I really enjoyed Georgia O’Keeffe’s simple, meditative and vibrant watercolour, some watercolours by Berthe Morisot and Winslow Homer, some Japanese short stories of which I will write about soon, witchy vibes found in the film “Love Witch” (2016) and the painting “Morgan-le-Fay” (1863-64) by Frederick Sandys which I have included in the selection of pictures bellow…

“No permanence is ours, we are a wave that flows to fit whatever form it finds.”
(Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game)

“Solitude devastates me, company oppresses me.”
(Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet)

“Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists.”

(Kurt Vonnegut – Cat’s Cradle)

Picture found here.

Picture found here.

Instagram: liberty.mai

Instagram: liberty.mai

untitled by nicolette clara iles on Flickr.

Instagram: sofie.in.wonderland

Found here.

Picture found here.

Picture found here.

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My Inspiration for August 2021

31 Aug

The best book I read this August was Takanobu Ishikawa’s “Romaji Diary” and I have already written a book review about it here. There were passages and thoughts that I found extremely relatable and other parts of the book felt more like dipping my finger into the sea of reverie… My other inspirations are, as you can see from the pictures, many lovely late 1960s and early 1970s fashion pictures, portrayals of circus and the sea in art, the Stone Roses, red colour, I really crave red these days, in art and other places, Pre-Raphaelite art as the gateway to the season that awakens the soul; autumn…

And I feel so lonely and vulnerable and strange…”

(Anne Sexton, from A Self-Portrait In Letters)

“My poor friend could not understand the deep yearning and pain in life. Feeling unbearably lonely, I returned to my room. Ultimately it’s impossible for a man to make another man understand him fully. In the final analysis, camaraderie between one man and another is merely superficial. Realizing that the friend who I had thought understood me as thoroughly as I had him was unable, ultimately, to understand the anguish and pain at the bottom of my heart made me feel unbearably dreary. We are each separate, each alone! This thought left me indescribably sad.”
(Takuboku Ishikawa, Romaji Diary)

John French – Jean Shrimpton for Mary Quant (London 1964)

Picture found here.

 

Mike Berkofsky – Jane Birkin Wearing a Dress by Laura Ashley (19 Magazine 1970)

Picture by Olha Sheludiakova, found here.

Picture found here.

Picture by Marina Marić, found here.

Alexis Waldeck – Donna Mitchell (Status & Diplomat 1967)

Picture found here.

Barry Lategan – Maudie James and Louise Despointes (Vogue UK 1971)

Picture found here.

Ford Abbey and Gardens (by Annie Spratt)

Picture found here.

Found in the Internet Archive by AnitaNH

Dresses from Foale and Tuffin (Woman’s Journal 1971)

Dresses by Colin Glascoe (Woman’s Journal 1971)

By Laura Makabresku.

Picture found here.

Stuart Brown – Models Wearing Pourelle Ensembles (19 Magazine 1969)

My Inspiration for July 2021

31 Jul

These sunny July days I very much enjoyed listening to my old favourite songs by Pearl Jam but also discovered some stuff by Chris Cornell, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains; especially the hauntingly beautiful live version of “Love, Hate, Love”. I am mildly obsessed with cactuses, both in paintings and in desert scenery, prairie dresses, 1970s Sarah Kay illustrations, vibrant, childlike, colorful paintings by Fauvists, Gauguin’s Tahiti-phase paintings, flower paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe… I got my hands on quite a few fascinating books this month (finally!), amongst them are the recently published and thought-provoking book “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters” by Abigal Shrier, Uncommon by Owen Hatherley; a book about the band Pulp, their aesthetic, lyrics and place as perpetual outsiders on the music scene, As I crossed a Bridge of Dreams; a wonderful novel written by a court lady in the 11th century Japan, The Bilingual Lover by Juan Marsé; both comical and sad at the same time, The Way to Paradise by Mario Vargas Llosa; a novel which explores the lives of Paul Gauguin and his grandmother Flora Tristan; they both had in common the urge for freedom, and they both tried to break the chains of civilisations, each in their own way. I am also more than half-way through Erich Fromm’s “Escape from Freedom” which is very interesting and especially so in the age we are living in, here are two quotes I enjoyed:

“We are proud that we are not subject to any external authority, that we are free to express our thoughts and feelings, and we take it for granted that this freedom almost automatically guarantees our individuality. The right to express our thoughts, however, means something only if we are able to have thoughts of our own; freedom from external authority is a lasting gain only if the inner psychological conditions are such that we are able to establish our own individuality.”

“Freedom is not less endangered if attacked in the name of anti-Fascism than in that of outright Fascism. This truth has been so forcefully formulated by John Dewey that I express the thought in his words: “The serious threat to our democracy,” he says, “is not the existence of foreign totalitarian states. It is the existence within our own personal attitudes and within our own institutions of conditions which have given a victory to external authority, discipline, uniformity and dependence upon The Leader in foreign countries. The battlefield is also accordingly here—within ourselves and our institutions.”

“The days are long and weigh on me. I am suffocating.”
(Albert Camus, from a letter featured in “A Life Worth Living”, c. 1940)

Sasha Kichigina photographed by Ina Lekiewicz for For Love & Lemons Spring 2020

Instagram: elise.buch

Picture found here.

Picture found here.

Model Ingrid Boulting photographed at Lacock Abbey, “Summer at Source”, by Norman Parkinson for Vogue UK, July 1970

Red Avadat, Red Munia or strawberry finch, picture found here.

Moret-sur-Loing, France (by J.P. Renais)

Picture found here.

A Cactus Garden in California⁣, c. 1902⁣, Source: Beinecke Digital Collections⁣

Picture found here.

Dan Kozan, from Creative Black Book: Photography (1985)

Cuba, picture found here.

Picture found here.

Picture found here.

Picture found here.

Picture found here.

Miss Moda 2020 in Elle Mexico December 2019 by Dennis Tejero

Towers with Faces at the Bayon Temple, Angkor wat complex, Cambodia. Picture found here.

Red and White Campion Meadow & Wild Campion Meadow
by Alan MacKenzie

Dreamy Pictures of Ingrid Boulting, Vogue UK, July 1970

22 Jul

“…the rose is full blown,
And the riches of Flora are lavishly strown;
The air is all softness, and chrystal the streams,
And the west is resplendently cloathed in beams.

We will hasten, my fair, to the opening glades,
The quaintly carv’d seats, and the freshening shades;
Where the fairies are chaunting their evening hymns,
And in the last sun-beam the sylph lightly swims.

And when thou art weary, I’ll find thee a bed,
Of mosses, and flowers, to pillow thy head…”

(John Keats, To Emma, 1815)Model Ingrid Boulting photographed at Lacock Abbey, “Summer at Source”, by Norman Parkinson for Vogue UK, July 1970

This photograph taken by Norman Parkinson for the July edition of Vogue UK in 1970 is just one picture from a series of pictures taken at the Lacock Abbey. The lovely girl in the picture that looks like Botticelli’s angel is a model Ingrid Boulting. She might not be as well-remembered today as Twiggy is, but in the 1960s and 1970s Ingrid, with her delicate figure and a pale face doll-like face with big blue eyes, was posing for photographers such as David Bailey and Richard Avedon, and she modelled for the Biba fashion boutique. Ingrid was not a Mod girl with pixie haircut and sharp eyeliner, but rather her looks embodied the soft, rose-tinted aesthetic of the early 1970s. Delicate, ethereal, with silky hair and a quiet, mysterious aura around her, Ingrid is the embodiment of a Pre-Raphaelite muse. That is why I think she was just perfect for this series of pictures taken at the Lacock Abbey, a mansion in Wiltshire, England, built in the Gothic style of the thirteenth century. Pre-Raphaelites, after all, looked back at the Medieval times as times of truth and idealism.

What I like about this photograph, apart from Ingrid’s gorgeous face, is the continual interplay of contrasting elements. The picture appears both static, controlled and carefully arranged, but at the same time there is an undeniable dreamy, carefree quality to it. The girl’s hands are arranged in a pose we might see in a medieval painting, and her hair is dancing freely in the wind. In the background the old, wise, worn-out, poetry-filled stone of the abbey meets the fragile and transient summer flowers. This scene looks to me like a place where “the riches of Flora are lavishly strown” and “the air is all softness”, as Keats wrote in his poem “To Emma”. Ingrid’s attire makes me imagine her as a lady who once may have lived in that abbey, holding flowers in her hands and awaiting the return of her knight from a battle. The scene oozes a mood that is archaic and sweet, soft, delicate, laden with poetry and dreams. It’s almost a painful sweetness that I feel whilst gazing at this picture because I wish that could be the life itself; a long summer afternoon filled with flowers and poetry.

The square shape and the grey tones of the picture may at first seem constricting it because our eyes are used to wandering freely over the picture, in a horizontal or vertical direction, as is the usual shape of the pictures. The black and white picture doesn’t reveal to us the delicate summer shades of the scene, but in this case the black and white is perfect because it allows our imagination to fill the space with colours, and not just colours, but the scents and sounds too. Even though I usually love vibrant colours, in this case I don’t want to see the colours, I want to feel them. Just as it is in a dream; you might not see everything clearly, or hear it, but you know it is there, you feel it in a way which is superior to only seeing it. As I already said, this is one of a few pictures taken for the 1970 July Vogue UK so I will put some others bellow. They are also very beautiful but this one is my favourite.

Maurice Prendergast – Two Women Crossing a Field

18 Jul

I shall not speak, I shall think about nothing”

Maurice Prendergast, Large Boston Public Garden Sketchbook – Two women crossing a field, 1895-97, watercolour

Two ladies in white dresses are walking through a yellow field. With their dainty parasols and elegant hats they almost look like porcelain dolls. The scene is closely cropped and we don’t get to see much of the nature around them. We don’t even see the sky the way we do in similar paintings by Claude Monet. Instead of a detailed portrayal of clouds and grass, Prendergast focuses on the intense yellowness of the field and offers us a sketchy but joyous scene in nature. The summer’s ripeness and vibrancy are at their peak. The lady’s red sash is dancing in the wind and its vibrant red colour contrasts beautifully with the yellow and white. Prendergast wonderfully masters the colour scheme where each colour brings out the vibrancy of the other. All of Prendergast’s watercolours have an uplifting effect on me and I really love how he wasn’t shy about using all the rich shades of colours. His love of raw, bright colours and flatness comes from his years of working in commercial arts. The watercolour sketches in the Boston sketchbook were all made after his return from Paris where he was introduced to the art of Aubrey Beardsley, Edouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard, but despite all these influences Prendergast returned to America with a vision of art that was playful, childlike, vibrant and completely his own. He took the Impressionist motives of leisure and nature but decided to portray them in the medium of watercolours instead of the traditional oil on canvas. This particular sunny, summery watercolour has been on my mind for a long time now and I thought what better time to write about this lovely watercolour than in the warm, yellow month of July? To end, here is a very fitting poem by Arthur Rimbaud called “Sensation”:

On the blue summer evenings, I shall go down the paths,
Getting pricked by the corn, crushing the short grass:
In a dream I shall feel its coolness on my feet.
I shall let the wind bathe my bare head.

I shall not speak, I shall think about nothing:
But endless love will mount in my soul;
And I shall travel far, very far, like a gipsy,
Through the countryside – as happy as if I were with a woman.