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Lena Levin
Works at Painting
Lives in Bay Area, CA
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Lena Levin

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Today's work: 

Sonnet 62: Mine own self-love quite contrary I read.

Three days of work (preliminary photo), and probably not quite complete, but it will have to wait -- because tomorrow we are leaving for Amsterdam, my favorite city of the whole world; a four-days visit which is my birthday present. 

Looking for ideas for Amsterdam-related books, both fiction and non-fiction. 
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Happy Birthday, Lena!
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Lena Levin

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We have just visited a nearby "Russian and European Deli", called "Kiev Grocery", with the express purpose to engage in a quasi-political activity consisting in boycotting Russian products and buying Ukrainian ones. 

This was limited, in effect, to refraining from our favorite desserts from St. Petersburg, and buying a "Kiev cake" instead (which, I am afraid, won't be quite good for our health... ). On a healthier note, I also found a single bottle of tomato juice from Ukraine (which turned out to be very good). But it was the last bottle they had.

All the other products were either from other Eastern or Central European countries, or from Brooklyn.  
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I lamented that the cake was not as it should be to Alex, a colleague of mine, who is from Ukraine and also knows absolutely everything about Russian life in SF Bay Area. He laughed me off: according to his (no doubt, very scientific) discussions with a former director of a confectionery from Zhitomir, the only authentic Russian/Ukrainian candy sold in Russian/Ukrainian delis here is, of all things, “Korovka”, the rest is manufactured in Brooklyn or in LA no matter what the label says (this includes “our favorite desserts from St. Petersburg”, BTW).

Little does one know....
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Lena Levin

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... we call that Heaven

This is NOT what you think! 

I was teaching a class about lungs today and thought I would find a video to watch and chose this not knowing what it was! WOW! 

I was going to shut it off (as it was not what I was looking for) then looked at them and the kids were totally rapt! At the end, they were silent except one kid who says "What the HECK did we just watch"

I think I will definitely be playing this again -- at the right moment. 
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Lena Levin

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Is self-love a sin? What do you think?
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Lena Levin

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More work on this sonnet ("while shadows like to thee do mock my sight"), still in-progress though... 
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Hi Lena,
It was very sincere.
But, watch out, I am a painter myself and thus my
judgment is very subjective.
Good end of the week !
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Lena Levin

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Today's work (two days of work, in-progress, iPad photo). 

The beginning of sonnet 61 painting ("While shadows like to thee do mock my sight"). Lots to do still, but it's a start... 
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Thank you, +Ríša Surý !
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Have them in circles
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Lena Levin

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This is a colour study for Sonnet 62 (from a couple of days ago), about self-love -- a topic apparently as relevant and controversial now as it was then. As for me, I've been thinking about self-love over the last several days more (it seems) than over my entire life before that.... If not more, at least more intensely. 

I asked you some time ago whether self-love is a sin. Now, I believe what Shakespeare is saying in the sonnet might seem somewhat paradoxical: he talks about unrequited self-love.

Indeed, the first quatrain talks about the experiencer(s) of self-love within himself ("possessed by the sin of self-love"): mine eye (which is a pun on "mine I"), all my soul, all my every part, my heart (which is a pun on "art" -- the words were pronounced identically in his time).

The second quatrain, on the other hand, talks about things being loved, the stimuli as it were that produce that experience, and those are quite different: face, shape, truth, worth. Moreover, there is subtle grammatical tension in this quatrain: it begins with methinks (putting "me" in a non-subject position), but markedly drops the necessary "I" in the next sentence (my own worth do define) -- that would be quite regular if he had "I think" in the first sentence, and it might be no big deal anyway, because Shakespeare is much more liberal with his syntax than the current rules of grammar seem to require. But in the context of the sonnet, which talks, after all, about a complex relationship between "I" and "me", this fleeting tension between "I" and "me" in the reader's brain, while they interpret the sonnet just cannot be accidental.

And then, in the third quatrain, the mirror shows the speaker one part of his self (his face), which turns out to be "beated (sic! that was the usual form back then) and chopped", and which he calls "my self indeed", and "reads" his self-love "quite contrary" -- that is, I think, in the other direction: we first had "I" loving "self", but now it's about "self" loving -- whom? Me? But it doesn't work anymore -- and not because the speaker looks old in the mirror (after all, "love is not love which alters when it alteration finds"), but because his  self-love turns out to be unrequited...      
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It was a comment on the possibility of truly knowing oneself...
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My contribution to our #firstfridayartwalk  (20"x20", Oil on linen) 

Being your slave what should I do but tend
Upon the hours and times of your desire?
I have no precious time at all to spend;
Nor services to do, till you require.

Nor dare I chide the world without end hour,
Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you,
Nor think the bitterness of absence sour,
When you have bid your servant once adieu;

Nor dare I question with my jealous thought
Where you may be, or your affairs suppose,
But, like a sad slave, stay and think of nought
Save, where you are, how happy you make those.

   So true a fool is love, that in your will,
   Though you do anything, he thinks no ill.

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 57
#williamshakespeare   #shakespeare   #sonnetsincolour  
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Thank you,+Kimberly Johnson!
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Lena Levin

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Today's small study (11"x14", in-progress). 
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Thank you, +Timo Honkanen, +Deanne Smith !
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Lena Levin

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I hadn't looked back at Russia for a while, refraining from reading news or anything, but now -- in the current crisis -- I've decided I have to, to try and understand what's going on. What can I say? It's not a pretty sight... 

The underlying idea behind what seems like madness to some is very simple and hardly new: "Might is right", no more no less. If a country is powerful, it can bend international laws to its heart's content. Do they have some grounds for this perception? You bet they do... but that reminds me of two slogans, which, reportedly, were in vogue in the Soviet Union simultaneously at some point: "America is falling off a cliff" and "Catch up and overtake America!" (again, reportedly, they sometimes appeared on two sides of the same billboard).

Add to this a common reversal: one sees that if a country is mighty, it can bend the law; one infers that if one breaks the law, one is really, really mighty. So let's go and break all international laws as spectacularly as we can, and then bask in our own glory.  

This whole concept has apparently been promoted through TV propaganda for a while, but now it's really over the roof. Several bloggers I've read decided to switch on their TVs after several years of not watching, just to understand what's up. Most felt physically sick and switched it right off (this, by the way, applies to my YouTube-based attempts, too).

One persevered, and he reports feeling (while watching) strange irrational emotions we cannot account for: for example, although he is absolutely and strongly against the annexation of Crimea, yet watching the news sequence from there he feels irrationally elated.  

Another one caught this piece of dialog on a major official network (
"P" is the author (a novelist) being interviewed, "I" is the interviewer):

P: Don't you just see how the Jews try and deliberately frustrate us?
I: (without missing a bit) Yeah, exactly like they had provoked the first Holocaust!

Think about it: the first Holocaust... it means that the possibility of a second one is right there in her little mind, and (by extension) in the mind of the viewers. So yes, "falling off the cliff" would be an understatement. 
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+Giselle Minoli Thanks. It's Sonnet 41 painting, so it's all about betrayal and loss. Seemed fitting for the occasion... 
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Have them in circles
56,828 people
Painter, linguist
  • Painting
  • Institute for Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences
  • University of Saint Petersburg
  • Uni Bielefeld
  • Leiden University
  • Stanford University
Basic Information
Looking for
Friends, Networking
Other names
Elena Maslova, Lena Shagina
Apps with Google+ Sign-in
Painter of poems
I am a painter, a painter of poems; to read more about me and to see my portfolio and the list of available paintings, please visit my website at

I run the +In Studio with Masters page here on G+, dedicated to studies from masters of painting.

+Terrill Welch and I run
G+ with brushes page, an on-going digest of original  paintings posted publicly on G+.

+Samantha Villenave and I run First Friday Art Walk, a monthly virtual art show on G+.
Bragging rights
Documented an endangered language
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Bay Area, CA
St. Petersburg, Russia - Bielefeld, Germany - Leiden, the Netherlands