Saturday, January 09, 2010


Hoovervilles can best be described as a collection of huts and shacks, as at the edge of a city, housing the unemployed during The Great Depression of the 1930s. Many families lost their homes during the era in US history, because they could not pay their mortgages. These people had no choice but to seek alternative forms of shelter. Hoovervilles, named after President Hoover, who was blamed for the problems that led to the depression, sprung up throughout the United States.

S. Lee Kann writes about his visit to a Hooverville in Pennsylvania in Show Places, Know Places, Go Places in Pittsburgh (1932).

    "One of the most unusual sights we've ever seen in any city. Here you will find men living in homemade 'houses' constructed of box wood and lumber, begging description. Many curious folks come out to 'Shantytown' and a guide eagerly shows one around with explanations as to who is who and what is what in 'Shantytown.' Any donation you may give is part of the community chest and shared by all the dwellers. Just out Liberty Avenue about five minutes from downtown. There are no numbers but we'd say about the 1800 block will bring you pretty close."

In 1934 a sociologist student from the University of Washington moved into a Hooverville in King County of Washington state. He paid fifteen dollars for a squatter shack and wrote his master thesis "Hooverville, a Study of a Community of Homeless Men in Seattle." which gives a somewhat prosaic yet sarcastic snapshot of the Pacific Northwest during the Great Depression.

    "From the sandy waste of an abandoned shipyard site, ... was swiftly hammered and wired to flower a conglomerate of grotesque dwellings, a Christmas-mix assortment of American junk that stuck together in congested disarray like sea-soaked jetsam spewed on the beach. To honor a distinguished engineer and designer, this unblueprinted , tincanesque, archtecturaloid was named Hooverville." (Herbert Hoover, U. S. president from 1929-1933, was an engineer by profession.)

Roy interviewed 650 residents and from that developed a demographic profile of what he called, "Mr. Hooverville, Seattle's candidate for all-American oblivion."

Early in the winter of 1932 a lumberjack by the name of Jesse Jackson along with a couple of dozen other homeless men had built shacks on nine acres of empty land owned by the Port of Seattle located a few blocks south of what is called today Pioneer Square. The Seattle Health Department was quick to condemn the 50 shanties and posted notices to vacate within seven days. At the end of the week Seattle police arrived and burned the shacks to the ground. The squatters rebuilt and the city burned them down again a month later. The third time the men dug into the ground and constructed roofs made of tin or steel. The city finally agreed to let them live there on the condition that they adhere to safety and sanitary rules.

From a census taken of the Hoovervile built at the Skinner and Eddy Shipyard Plant 2 (abandoned in 1920) in Washington in March 1934:

    .....counted 632 men and seven women living in 479 shanties. Their ages ranged from 15 to 73. Included were 292 Caucasians foreign born, 186 Caucasians born in the United States, 120 Filipinos, 29 Negroes (African Americans), three Costa Ricans, two Mexicans, two Indians, two Eskimos, and one Chilean.

The Seattle settlement was born of poverty and the failure of society to respond to massive unemployment. Hooverville residents made something out of nothing and survived for a decade as a successful self-managed community.


Hooverville: Shantytown of Seattle's Great Depression

Picture Source

The Strip District: Shantytown: Looking Southwest

Pilots' Jargon

Yes, military pilots really do talk this way! This is not an all-inclusive list of military acronyms, just the type of lingo you're apt to hear in the Ready-Room, on the flightline, or in the aircraft.


AAA~ Anti-aircraft Artillery. Rapid-firing cannon or machine guns, often aimed by computers and radar.

ACM ~ Air Combat Maneuvering, or dogfighting.

Admin ~ The rented room that is the party headquarters ashore, usually at a foreign port of call.

AGL ~ Above Ground Level. An airplane's altimeter reads height above Mean Sea Level (MSL); the more realistic measurement over land is height Above Ground Level. Most military aircraft have a radaraltimeter, which reads aircraft height above ground level.

Air Boss ~ Head of the Air Department onboard a carrier; he rules the flight deck.

Air Wing ~ The entire complement of aircraft fielded by the carrier in battle: fighters, attack jets, early-warning planes, tankers, helicopters, antisubmarine patrol craft.

Alert 5 ~ A manned aircraft that can launch within five minutes. The Navy has time restrictions as to how long a crew can stand an Alert-5 watch. Similarly, Alert 15, Alert 30, Alert 60.

Aluminum Cloud ~ The F-14 is so large that it is sometimes referred to by this term.

Alpha Mike Foxtrot ~ Sometimes simply AMF. Phonetics for "Adios Mother F****r.

Angels ~ Altitude, measured in thousands of feet ("angels fifteen" means 15,000 feet above sea level). Also, a term lovingly ascribed to the rescue helicopter by any aviator who has experienced an ejection and subsequent helicopter rescue.

Anti-Smash ~ Aircraft strobe, or anti-collision, lights.

Angle of Attack (AOA) ~ Angle of the wing relative to the forward flight path of the airplane. On any aircraft, too great an angle of attack will cause the wing to stop flying (stall), as airflow across the upper surface is disrupted.

Angles ~ Gaining angles on a dogfight opponent involves maneuvering for a shot from astern. The ultimate in an angles fight is an angle of zero-- straight up the enemy's tailpipe.

ASW ~ Anti-submarine warfare.

Atoll, Apex, Acrid ~ NATO code names for Soviet-manufactured air-to-air missiles.


B/N ~ Bombardier-navigator; the specific term for the NFO in the A-6 aircraft.

"Back to the Taxpayers" ~ Where you send a wrecked aircraft.

Bag ~ Flight suit or anti-exposure suit ("Put on a bag"); as a verb--to collect or acquire: as in, "bag some traps".

Bag Season ~ Cold weather or water conditions which require the wearing of anti-exposure gear; which is very restrictive, uncomfortable and unpopular

Ball ~ An amber visual landing aid that the pilot uses to adjust aircaft relative position to a desired final approach glideslope. The primary optical landing device on the carrier.

Bandit ~ Dogfight adversary positively identified as a bad guy. Hostile aircraft.

Basement ~ Hangar deck of the aircraft carrier.

Bat Decoder ~ A sheet of paper carried on all fight operations that is the key to current airborne communication codes.

Bat-turn ~ A tight, high-G change of heading. A reference to the rapid 180-degree Batmobile maneuver in the old "Batman" television series.

Beaded Up ~ Worried or excited.

Behind the Power Curve ~ Not keeping up with expectations.

Bent ~ Damaged or broken.

Big Chicken Dinner ~ AKA Bad Conduct Discharge.

Bingo ~ Minimum fuel for a comfortable and safe return to base. Aircraft can fly and fight past bingo fuel in combat situations, but at considerable peril.

Bingo Field ~ Land-based runway to which carrier aircraft can divert if necessary.

Birds ~ Aircraft.

Blower ~ Afterburner.

Blue-Water Ops ~ Carrier flight operations beyond the reach of land bases or bingo fields.

Boards Out ~ Speed brakes extended

Boat ~ Any Navy ship regardless of size. The aircraft carrier is "THE Boat".

Bogey ~ Unidentified and potentially hostile aircraft.

Bolt, Bolter ~ A carrier landing attempt in which the tailhook fails to engage any of the arresting wires, requiring a "go-around", and in which the aircraft landing gear contacts the deck. Otherwise it is a "low pass".

Boola-Boola ~ Radio call made when a pilot shoots down a drone.

Booming ~ Loud, raucous partying ("we were booming last night"); or, fast, exciting flying ("we went booming through the Grand Canyon").

Boresight ~ Technically, to line up the axis of a gun with its sights, but pilots use the term to describe concentrating on a small detail to the point of causing some detriment to the "big picture".

BOREX ~ A dull, repetitive exercise (a busy. tense one might be a SWEATEX).

Bought the Farm ~ Died. Originated from the practice of the government reimbursing farmers for crops destroyed due to aviation accidents on their fields. The farmer's, knowing a good thing when they see it, would inflate the value of lost crops to the point that, in effect, the mishap pilot "bought the farm". Student pilots regularly practice emergency landings to farmer's fields. Another definition for the term : If a pilot was killed, either in combat or due to aircraft accident, the beneficiaries of his insurance would be payed off. Since pilots tended to be young, the beneficiaries would often be their parents. So, when the pilot died, he "bought the farm" by the insurance money paying off the mortgage.

Bounce, Tap ~ Unexpected attack on another aircraft.

Brain Housing Group ~ Mock-technical term for the skull.

Bravo Zulu ~ Praise for a good job.

Bubbas ~ Fellow squadron members; anyone who flies the same aircraft as you do.

Bumping ~ ACM (Air Combat Maneuvering),also called "bumping heads".

BuNo ~ Bureau number, permanent serial number that the Navy assigns to an aircraft when it is built.

Burner ~ Afterburner; a system that feeds raw fuel into a jet's hot exhaust, thus greatly increasing both thrust and fuel consumption.

Buster ~ Controller term for full military power: to hurry up, go as fast as possible.


CAG ~ Commander of the Air Group - the carrier's chief pilot.

Carqual, or CQ ~ Carrier qualification; a set number of carrier takeoffs and landings required in training and at periodic intervals of all carrier flight crews.

Catshot ~ A carrier takeoff assisted by a steam-powered catapult. A "cold cat," one in which insufficient launch pressure has been set into the device, can place the hapless aircraft in the water. A 'hot cat" -- too much pressure - is less perilous, but can rip out the nose wheel assembly or the launching bridle. Once a pair of common problems, but practically unheard-of today.

CAVU ~ Ceiling And Visibility Unlimited: the best possible flying weather.

Centurion ~ An aviator who has made 100 shipboard landings, typically a centurion patch is then issued and proudly worn on the flight jacket.

Charlie ~ The planned landing time aboard a carrier.

Charlie Foxtrot ~ Phonetics for "cluster-f*ck"

Check Six ~ Visual observation of the rear quadrant, from which most air-to-air attacks can be expected. Refers to the clock system of scanning the envelope around the aircraft; 12 o'clock is straight ahead, 6 o'clock is directly astern. Also a common salutation and greeting among tactical pilots. Keep an eye on your behind, be careful.

Checking for Light Leaks ~ Taking a nap, referring to the eyelids

Cherubs ~ Altitude under 1,000 feet, measured in hundreds of feet ("cherubs two" means 200 feet).

Cold Nose ~ Radar turned off , also known as "Lights out", (Navy pilots transmit "My nose is cold" before refueling from Air Force tankers).

COD ~ Carrier On-Board Delivery aircraft, used to transfer personnel and cargo to and from the carrier.

Colorful Actions ~ Flathatting, showing off, or otherwise ignoring safe procedures while flying.

Combat Dump ~ A bowel movement before flying; also called "sending an admiral to sea"

Cones ~ Students, short for coneheads: also called nurkin heads, or studs.

Conning ~ Making contrails.

Contract ~ Agreements and ground rules, some minor and some life-threatening, between two-man fighter crews or between wingmen.

Crossdeck Pendant ~ An arresting wire on an aircraft carrier; or the attaching cord between a VERTREP helicopter to its externally slung cargo.

Cumulo-granite ~ also known as CFIT (see-fit) which stands for Controlled Flight Into Terrain. Word Spy says, " Mountain ranges are fairly common granite formations and once struck by an aircraft you have had "an encounter with cumulo-granite". " Not a Good Thing.


Dash Two ~ The second plane in a two-or-more aircraft formation; the wingman.

Dead Heading ~ pilots flying as passengers.

Deck Spotter ~ Derogatory term for a pilot who looks away from the ball to peek at the deck.

Delta ~ When an aircraft arrives at a boat for recovery, this instruction tells the pilot to stay clear and save gas; refers to a holding pattern at the boat.

Delta Sierra ~ Phonetics for "dumb s**t": describes a stupid action, and erases all previous Bravo Zulus and Sierra Hotels.

Departure ~ Literally departure from controlled flight, usually brought on in high-performance jets by excessive angle of attack coupled with partial power loss in one engine. All aircraft depart differently, but some anxious moments and some loss of altitude will result before control can be regained. Some jets, most notably the F-4 Phantom, are unrecoverable from certain departures.

Dirty ~ Aircraft configured for landing with gear and flaps down.

Dot ~ Refers to how a distant aircraft looks on the horizon, ("I'm a dot" means "I'm out of here").

Double Ugly ~ Fond nickname for the enormously capable but less than beautiful F-4 Phantom. See also Rhino.

Double Nuts ~ The CAG's bird usually numbered 100 or 00.

Down ~ Broken, not flying. A sick pilot is "down".

Drift Factor ~ If you have a high one, you aren't reliable.

Driver ~ Pilot.

E - "ECHO"

Echo Range ~ A corner of the China Lake Naval Weapons Test Center outfitted with ground targets and electronic threat simulators. Many Top Gun training sessions are flown over Echo Range.

ECM ~ Electronic Countermeasures; systems for jamming or misleading enemy weapons, communications, and radar.

EFATO ~ a pilots' acronym standing for Engine Failure After Take Off.

Electric Jet ~ The F-16 Fighting Falcon, so nicknamed because of its fly-by-wire controls. or "Lawn Dart"

ELINT ~ Electronic Intelligence; the gathering of electronic emissions related to communications, weapons control, or reconnaissance.

Envelope ~ The maximum performance parameters of an aircraft; flying at the edge of the envelope can be both exciting and dangerous.


FAG ~ Fighter Attack Guy; derogatory term for F/A-18 Hornet drivers.

Fangs Out ~ When a pilot is really hot for a dogfight.

Fangs Sunk in Floorboard ~ When a fighter pilot boresights on a kill but ends up getting shot himself.

FARP ~ Fleet ACM Readiness Program; a periodic training program presented in the context of the Fleet Air Wing; dogfighting practice with an adversary squadron.

FASO ~ Flight Physiology Training: recurrent safety training for aircrews directed at emphasizing physiological stressors, conditions, or episodes which might be encountered in flight.

FAST ~ Fleet Air Superiority Training.

Father ~ Slang term for shipboard TACAN station. There is a Father on most Mothers.

Feet Wet/Dry ~ The former means "over-water," the latter "over-land."

Fishbed, Flogger ~ Also Fitter, Flanker, Fresco Fulcrum, etc. NATO code names for Russian fighter aircraft.

Flathatting ~ Unauthorized low-level flying and stunting--thrilling, sometimes fatal, usually career- ending if caught.

Flare ~ The nose-up landing posture normal for most land-based aircraft. Carrier jets eliminate flare in favor of a slamming contact with the deck. Also the terminal portion of a helicopter autorotation in which rotor speed can be accelerated while reducing rate-of-descent and forward groundspeed.

Fly-by-wire ~ Electronic, computer-controlled operation of aircraft control surfaces. Supplants mechanical/hydraulic actuation common in earlier jets. The F-16 Falcon, F/A-18 Hornet, and the French Mirage 2000 use these systems.

FM ~ Abbreviation for "f**king magic": very high-tech; used to describe how something you don't understand actually works. The ASQ-81 Magnetic Anomaly System works by "FM".

FOD ~ Foreign Object Damage. A constant concern on airfields and carrier decks where jet engines operate. Jet intakes can ingest loose objects, and even the smallest item--a rock, a bolt--can seriously damage jet turbine blades.

Fox One, Two, Three ~ Radio calls indicating the firing of a Sparrow, Sidewinder, or Phoenix air-to- air missile, respectively. locke baron says, "Fox three indicates the launch of an active-radar AAM, which includes not only the AIM-54 Phoenix but also the AIM-120 AMRAAM."

Furball ~ A confused aerial engagement with many combatants. Several aircraft in tight ACM.

G - "GOLF"

G, G-loading, G-rating ~ High-performance aircraft subject airframes and occupants to centrifugal forces far beyond simple gravity. One-G equals normal gravity; a pilot and plane pulling 4-Gs in a turn will feel forces equal to four times the weight of gravity.

G-suit ~ Nylon trousers that wrap around the legs and abdomen. Filled automatically with compressed air in high-G maneuvers, the G-suit helps prevent the pooling of blood in the lower extremities, thus retarding the tendency to lose consciousness. Also known as "speed-jeans"

Gaff Off ~ Ignore.

Gate ~ Afterburner. see also Zone

Gigahertz and Nanoseconds ~ Highly technical, detailed, and hard to understand ("It's getting down to gigahertz and nanoseconds.")

Gizmo ~ A piece of technical gear (also doodad, thingamabob, or hoo-ha)

Glove ~ The huge wing root of the F-14 Tomcat, housing the mechanism for moving the variable- geometry wings. Also, Tom Cruise notwithstanding, fireproof gloves are always worn by military pilots regardless of the outside temperature.

Go Juice ~ Jet fuel.

god ~ The authority, boss, or person with full responsibility; also descriptive of a pilot's prowess ("He's an ACM god").

Goes Away ~ What something does when you hit it with a missile.

Golden Leg Spreaders ~ Pilot wings...or rather what pilots can get with their wings.

Gomer ~ Slang for a dogfight adversary, the usage stemming from the old Gomer Pyle TV show.

Goo ~ Bad weather that makes it impossible to see; in the clouds.

Goon Up ~ Screw up.

Gouge ~ The latest inside information. Also the poop, the skinny. A summary of important information.

Green Apple ~ The control knob for the cockpit's emergency oxygen supply.

Greenie Board ~ Prominently displayed squadron scoreboard where the landing signal officers rate the pilots' carrier landings (any color other than green is bad ): also called the "weenie board."

Gripe ~ A mechanical problem on an aircraft. An "up" gripe means you can still fly: a "down" gripe means you can't.


Hamburger Helper ~ The bombardier-navigator (B/N) or radar intercept officer (RIO).

Hangar Queen ~ An aircraft that suffers chronic "downs"; hangar queens are often pirated for spares for the squadron's other aircraft, so when the aircraft leave the carrier at the end of the cruise, the maintenance officer normally flies the hangar queen because he knows which parts have been taken (the "queen's" ejection seats are especially well preflighted).

Hard Deck ~ An established minimum altitude for training engagements. Early Top Gun hops honor a 10,000-foot AGL hard deck.

Hawk Circle ~ The orbiting stack of aircraft waiting to land on the carrier.

Head on a Swivel ~ Keeping an eye peeled for an ACM adversary; also called "doing the Linda Blair," for the 360-degree head rotation in the movie "The Exorcist".

Heater ~ Sidewinder missile which homes in on heat sources.

Helo ~ Universal Navy/Marine term for helicopter. Don't say "chopper" unless you're hanging out with the Army.

High PRF ~ Extremely excitable (PRF is a radar term: pulse repetition frequency).

High Warble ~ Unduly agitated.

Hop ~ A Mission, or flight

HOTAS ~ Hands On Throttle And Stick. Modern fighters have every imaginable control function mounted on either the stick (right hand) or the throttle quadrant (left hand), so that the pilot need not fumble around in the cockpit.

HUD ~ Heads Up Display. A transparent screen mounted on the dashboard on which pertinent data from flight instruments and weapons systems are projected. The HUD eliminates the need to look down into the cockpit to read instruments.

Hummer ~ Any ingenious machine--plane, car, or weapon--whose actual name can't be recalled. Also "puppy," "bad boy." The E-2 Hawkeye early-warning aircraft is also nicknamed "Hummer", in reference to the sound of its turboprop engines.


IFR ~ Instrument Flight Rules, permitting safe flight in conditions of limited visibility

Indian Night Noises ~ The ominous creaks, pops, and shudders of an aircraft in flight

In-Flight Engagement ~ Snagging the arresting wire before the wheels touch the deck. This can result in damage to the aircraft.

In the Spaghetti ~ Where you catch the wires.

INS ~ Inertial Navigation System. A device that, when properly loaded and aligned, permits the pilot to determine his location anywhere on earth within a few hundred feet.


Jesus bolt ~ the one bolt on an airplane or helicopter which mythically holds the whole contraption together.

Jink ~ To maneuver violently to avoid a threat.

JO ~ Junior officer, usually with all the answers.

JO Junk Room ~ The JO state room, where all the good parties are aboard the boat.

Jock, Driver ~ Pilot, as in "helo driver", or "fighter jock"

JP-4, JP-5 ~ Types of jet fuel: the aroma of which makes former aviators nostalgic for flight operations.

Judy ~ Radio call signaling that your quarry is in sight and you are taking control of the intercept.

K - "KILO"

Kick the Tires and Light the Fires ~ Formerly, to bypass or severely shorten the required routine of physically inspecting the aircraft prior to flight. Currently meaning "let's get this aircraft preflighted and outta here, pronto"

Knife Fight in a Phone Booth ~ Close-in, slow-speed aerial dogfight with a nimble adversary. Often just called a "knife-fight".

L - "LIMA"

LEAPEX ~ A jump-through-your-a** project, exercise, or drill. Something silly that needs to be done NOW!

Lethal Cone, Cone of Vulnerability ~ Area to the rear of the jet's tailpipe, into which most infra-red missile and gun attacks are ideally launched.

Level bust ~ A departure of 300 feet or more from the assigned level. There are a few ways a pilots can achieve a level bust. When an aircraft in level flight ascends or drops without the go-ahead from control tower. When an aircraft climbs or descends and falls short of leveling off correctly. Sometimes they pass through and continuing to climb or descend, or pass through and then come back to the correct level. Or an aircraft will level off at the right altitude only to have the wrong altimeter setting.

Lights Out ~ Radar off.

Lost the Bubble ~ Got confused or forgot what was happening.

Loading/Unloading ~ Increasing or decreasing angle of attack and G's

Loud Handle ~ Lever or grip that fires ejection seat.

LSO ~ Landing Signals Officer. Squadron member with considerable experience in carrier landings, responsible for assisting others onto the deck and for grading their efforts. Also known as "paddles".

M - "MIKE"

Martin-Baker Fan Club ~ If you eject, you're a member (a reference to the Martin-Baker company, manufacturer of ejection seats). An official list of members is maintained.

Meatball ~ The glideslope indication light that pilots watch when they're trapping.

Merge, Merged Plot ~ The point at which aircraft come into contact, after having been vectored toward each other by radar control.

MiGCAP ~ Combat Air Patrol over ground-attack aircraft.

Military Power ~ Maximum jet engine power without engaging afterburner.

Mini-Boss ~ The Assistant Air Boss.

Mort ~ "Killed" in ACM practice.

Mother, or Mom ~ The boat on which you are deployed, and where you launched from.

Mud-mover, Ground-pounder ~ Low-level attack aircraft such as the A-6 Intruder. The F/A-18 doubles as a fighter and a mud-mover.

Music ~ Electronic Jamming intended to deceive radar.

My Fun Meter is Pegged ~ Sarcastic comment for, "I am not enjoying this."


NATOPS ~ The Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization program, responsible for rules and regulations governing the safe and correct operation of all naval aircraft.

NFO ~ An aviator who is an officer but not a pilot; pilots say it stands for "No Future Occupation"; also called the "walkin'-talkin' navbag."

NFWS ~ The Navy Fighter Weapons School, a graduate school for fighter pilots. Its universal nickname is "Top Gun".

Nice Vapes ~ Comment on an exciting fly-by when high speed at low altitude or high G causes dramatic vapor trails.

No-Load ~ An underachiever.

No Joy ~ Failure to make visual sighting; or inability to establish radio communications.

Nugget ~ A first-tour aviator.

Nylon Letdown ~ Ejection and subsequent parachute ride.


OAST ~ Overland Air Superiority Training. A periodic training exercise conducted over land and integrating all the elements of the carriers air wing.

On the Mouse ~ Talking on the flight-deck radio circuit that uses a headset resembling Mickey Mouse ears.

Opportunity to excel ~ A disagreeable job without the time or resources to properly complete.

Oversweep ~ When the F-14, on the ground, sweeps its wings to seventy-two degrees aft making it easier to store.

P - "PAPA"

Padlocked ~ To have a bogey firmly in your sights.

Painted ~ Scanned by radar.

Passing Gas ~ What an aerial tanker does.

Pass ~ The point at which fighters, closing head-on, flash past each other. Also, an attempt at landing.

Penalty Box ~ If you get a wave off or a bolter, that's where you go.

Pickle ~ A device held by the LSO that activates the "cut" light on the lens: as a verb, to drop a bomb or external fuel tank.

Pinging On ~ Paying close attention to; critical scrutinization

Pinkie ~ A landing made at twilight between the official time of sunset (or sunrise) and "real" darkness; it officially counts as a night landing, but is cheating; preferred type of "night" landing by O-4's and above.

Pit ~ Rear seat position of the F-14 Tomcat or F-4 Phantom.

PLAT ~ Pilot landing aid television. a videotape camera that records all carrier launches and recoveries.

Playmates ~ The pilots of other aircraft on the same mission as you.

Plumber ~ An inept pilot.

Pointy End ~ The front of a boat

Popeye ~ What you are when you're flying in the goo.

Power Puke or Power Barf ~ Projectile vomiting, a symptom of airsickness.

Pole ~ Control stick.

Prang ~ To bump, crunch, or break an aircraft.

Pucker Factor ~ How scary something is.

Puke ~ Someone who flies a different kind of aircraft than you, as in fighter puke or attack puke.

Punch Out ~ To eject.



R2D2 ~ A RIO (a reference to Luke Skywalker's robot backseater in the Star Wars movies).

Ramp Strike ~ Landing short in the ramp area, sometimes resulting in a crash.

Radome ~ Streamlined fiberglass enclosure covering a radar antenna.

RAG ~ Replacement Air Group. Squadron in which newly trained pilots are introduced to, and trained in, a particular aircraft type. Formally known as the FRS (Fleet Replacement Squadron).

Red Flag ~ A large mock air war, held quarterly by the Air Force at Nellis AFB, Nevada. Many non- Air Force assets -- Navy/Marines, Army, foreign--are invited to participate.

Rhino ~ Nickname for the F-4 Phantom. Also Double Ugly.

RIO ~ Radar Intercept Officer. Back-seat crewman in the -14 Tomcatand -4 Phantom A specialized NFO

Rocket One ~ The skipper.

Roll 'Em ~ A movie. ("What time's the roll 'em?")--a nightly social event in the ready-room.

Roof ~ The flight deck on the carrier.


SA ~ Situational Awareness. An all-encompassing term for keeping track of what's happening when flying. SA involves knowing what your airplane is doing relative to its envelope, where your adversary is and what he's up to, where the ground is, the status of enemy threats on the ground, and hundreds of other variables. Loss of situational awareness is often cited as a contributing factor to many military-aviation mishaps.

SAM ~ Surface-to-air missile.

SAR ~ Search and Rescue.

Scooter ~ Nickname for the A-4 Skyhawk, used as a MiG simulator at Top Gun.

Scope ~ A RIO.

Section ~ Two aircraft operating together as a tactical unit.

Shoe ~ Short for "blackshoes," a derogatory term for nonflying personnel; aviators wear brown shoes.

Shooter ~ The catapult officer.

Sierra Hotel ~ Phonetic abbreviation for "s** hot," high praise; the pilot's favorite and all-purpose expression of approval.

Smoking Hole ~ An airplane crash site.

Sniffer ~ A device on the flight deck that checks that an aircraft is broadcasting IFF transmissions.

Snuggle Up ~ During formation flight, to close up under the wing of another aircraft.

Sortie ~ A single mission by one aircraft.

Speed of Heat, Warp One ~ Very, very fast.

Speed Slacks, Speed Jeans ~ The G-suit. which applies pressure to the legs to aid in preventing blackout during high-G maneuvering.

Spooled Up ~ Excited.

Spud Locker ~ The part of a carrier where you don't want to land; it is well down on the fantail, so if you hit it, you are way too low (at least one Navy pilot earned the nickname "Spud" for doing just that).

State ~ How much fuel you've got. Mother requests, "Say your state". Responded to in the form of hours and minutes of fuel onboard til you fall out of the sky ("splash"). You respond "State two plus two zero to splash" = 2 hours and 20 minutes of flying time remaining.

Stick-Throttle Interconnect ~ Mock-tech term for a pilot (also called just a "stick").

Sweat Bead Condition One ~ This is a condition often enjoyed during a SWEATEX or when one is beaded up as far as one might go. Sweet ~ Up and working.


TACAN ~ Tactical Aid to Navigation. Navigation aid which provides bearing and distance (slant range) between it and an airplane.

TACTS ~ Tactical Aircrew Combat Training System. A system of computers, sensors, data pods, and graphic displays that permits real-time depiction of an aerial dogfight. TACTS is an integral element of Top Gun training.

Tank ~ Refuel

Tango Uniform ~ Polite phonetics for "tits up"; broken, not functioning.

Texaco ~ An aerial tanker. e.g. KC-135's

Three Down and Locked ~ Landing gear down and ready for landing. A required confirmation call prior to landing at Air Force bases. Pilots who fly fixed-gear aircraft are known to modify this call as "three down and welded".

Three-Nine Line ~ Imaginary line across your airplane's wingspan. A primary goal in ACM is to keep your adversary in front of your three-nine line.

Throttle Back ~ To slow down, take it easy.

Tickets ~ The jobs, billets, and accomplishments you need to climb the totem pole (the tickets get "punched").

Tiger ~ An aggressive pilot.

Tits Machine ~ A good, righteous airplane. Current airplanes need not apply, this is a nostalgic term referring to birds gone by. By all accounts the F-8 Crusader was a tits machine.

Top Off ~ Fill up with gas.

TransPac/Lant ~ To cross the Pacific or Atlantic by ship or aircraft.

Trap ~ An arrested landing on a carrier, a helo landing into an RSD (rapid securing device)

Trick-or-Treat ~ If you don't make this pass. you have to tank.

Turkey ~ Nickname for the F-14 Tomcat (when landing, the movement of its control surfaces makes it look like a turkey).

Tweak ~ To fine-tune or adjust.

Twirly ~ Anti-collision beacon on an aircraft.


Up ~ Working, not broken.

Up on the Governor ~ When someone is about to have a tantrum (term comes from the device that keeps the engine from overspeeding).

Up to Speed, or Up to Snuff ~ To understand or to know what's going on.


Varsity Play for the Deck ~ A skillful landing attempt.

VSTOL ~ Very Short Takeoff and Landing. Also VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) The AV-8B Harrier is a VSTOL (VTOL) aircraft. Capable of vectoring its jet thrust to shorten its take-off roll or even to rise and descend vertically.

Vulture's Row ~ A viewing gallery on an aircraft carrier's island where you can watch flight operations.


Warm Fuzzy ~ Feeling of confidence or security. When things feel right.

Warthog ~ Universal nickname for the A-10 Thunderbolt II close air support aircraft.

Wash Out ~ To not make the grade at flight school.

Waveoff ~ When the LSO orders a pilot not to trap.

Whiskey Charlie ~ Phonetics for "Who cares"

Whiskey Delta ~ Phonetics for "weak dick", a pilot who can't cut it. Such a scurrilous term that it's almost never used.

Winder ~ A sidewinder missile.

Wingman ~ Second pilot in a two-ship pair. responsible for ensuring that his leader's six o'clock remains clear.

Workups ~ Putting a ship through certain tests and exercises before going on cruise.

X - "X-RAY"


Z - "ZULU"

Zero-Dark-Thirty ~ Late into the night or pre-dawn; early. Technically a half-hour after midnight, but commonly used to describe any event that is scheduled to take place after midnight and before sunrise. Military slang for having to get up early; meaning any time of night that most people consider an unearthly hour. Also termed Oh Dark Thirty

Zone 1 ~ Minimum afterburner in the Tomcat.

Zone 5 ~ Maximum afterburner in the Tomcat.

Zoombag ~ Flight suit.

Sources: The only information about this glossary was that it was originally written by a navy skipper whose page is no longer published. There are so many copies of this online it's difficult to cite the original author.

Word Spy
Accessed July 18, 2006.

e.e. cummings

E.E. Cummings, or ee cummings, if you prefer -- he didn't care much either way from what I've read, was influenced early on by the Imagists however his spirit did not fit the Imagist description. His work was too personal and too passionate to satisfy the militant Imagist. You may be surprised by the form of his poems. Some like it may not always be so; and i say are traditional in construction with rhyme and scheme as sonnets. Certainly there are some odd things about it: the punctuation and capitalization are eccentric, as cummings always made them.

More important is the meter. Does a line like "saying,Accept all happiness from me" belong in a sonnet? Well, it's there, so it must. About the only way you can make this line fit is to sing the sonnet. You might want to try it; make up a tune for the last six lines of it may not always be so; and i say --it makes the language flow smoothly. It's very simple, and that is what cummings was up to.

E.E. Cummings's is confusing at first, you may be wondering about the non-standard punctuation and strange placing of words on the virtual page. Many people have the idea that this makes Cummings quite the rebel who "throws out all the rules". But from reading around I discovered that origins of this style are due to his art training as a painter, and particularly in his eagerness in regards to Imagism. He had the idea that there were better uses for spaces, capital letters, and even parts of speech, than those for which they were commonly used. Unlike most who tried he enjoyed some success, as the Imaginists, he rearranged things creating a new effect. Here is an short excerpt from his introduction to New Poems:

    The poems to come are for you and for me and are not for mostpeople-it's no use trying to pretend that mostpeople and ourselves are alike. Mostpeople have less in common with ourselves than the squarerootof-minusone. You and I are human beings;mostpeople are snobs.
    Take the matter of being born. What does being born mean to most-people? Catastrophe unmitigated. Socialrevolution. The cultured aristocrat yanked out of his hyperexclusively ultravoluptuous super-palazzo,and dumped into an incredibly vulgar detentioncamp swarming with every conceivable species of undesireable organism. Mostpeople fancy a garanteed birthproof safetysuit of nondestructible selflessness. If mostpeople were to be born twice they'd improbably call it dying-
    you and i are not snobs. We can never be born enough. We are human beings;for whom birth is a supremely welcome mystery,the mystery of growing:the mystery which happens only and whenever we are faithful to ourselves. you and i wear the dangerous looseness of doom and find it becoming. Life,for eternal us,is now;and now is much too busy being a little more than everything to seem anything,catastrophic included.
    Life,for mostpeople,simply isn't. Take the socalled standardofliving. What do mostpeople mean by "living"? They don't mean living. They mean the latest and closest plural approximation to singular prenatal passivity which science,in its finite but unbounded wisdom,has suc-ceeded in selling their wives. If science could fail,a mountain's a mammal. Mostpeople's wives can spot a genuine delusion of embryonic omni-potence immediately and will accept no subsitutes.
    -luckily for us,a mountain is a mammal....

    -e. e. cummings

Like it or not Cummings odd typography has become closely associated with him and readers come to expect an e e cummings poem to look funny. By the time Cummings became popular, his odd typography had become closely identified with him. Some scholars guess that in the long run he might have felt limited by this expectation.

Cummings was also a fine artist, playwright and novelist; his life and art were tightly interwoven. As for his poetry, don't be confused by it. It's just a song and the surprising thing about his work, given the way it looks, is that it reads very regularly, especially if you follow the typographical clues. Try reading it aloud and see if you don't agree. A common misconception is that he never used capitals though as you read through his work of course he uses capitalizations often, but not in a conventional way. Of interest is a letter he wrote to his mother he said, , "I am a small eye poet." September 3, 1925 (Selected Letters, F. W. Dupee and George Stade, eds., 1969, pp. 108-9) He uses the meaning quite cleverly with the use of capitalization to differentiate the writer of the letter (first person singular) and the writer of the poetry. Some say "e. e. cummings" is the spelling legalized by the author himself as his signature to his poems, but this is apparently a fiction. Frequently fans will will uncapitalize in commemoration of his revolutionary style but the official spelling is capitalized correctly.

He was a Harvard graduate, and served in an ambulance unit in France during World War I. After the war, Cummings committed himself completely to his writing and painting, publishing eleven books of poems--with a posthumous volume appearing the year after his death. All are collected in Complete Poems 1913-1962 (1972).

Other works:

  • Eimi (Greek for "I Am"), in 1933, a second antibureaucracy journal about his journey to the Soviet Union.

    Several plays :

  • --Him (1927),
  • Anthropos: The Future of Art (1930; 1945), and
  • Santa Claus: A Morality (1946)

    A scenario for a ballet:

  • Tom (1935), based on Uncle Tom's Cabin.

    Essays and lectures:

  • i: Six Nonlectures (1953) and E. E. Cummings: A Miscellany (1958; rev. ed., 1965).

    A collection of childrens stories: Fairy Tales appeared in 1965; and his Selected Letters was published in 1969.

Popular particularly among young readers, for his playful style, simple use of language, and his attention to subjects such as sex and war. He was second only to Robert Frost as one of the most widely read poet in the United States at the time of his death in 1962. He wrote with typographical ingenuity, showing how his presentation of words on the page could change oral readings of the poetry.


E. E. Cummings

NOT "e. e. cummings"

Excerpt from the introduction to New Poems


The Equal Rights Amendment
    Section 1. Equality of Rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.
    Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
    Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

Written in 1921 by suffragist Alice Paul, the Equal Rights Amendment has been introduced to the United States Congress every session since 1923. It was approved in 1972 but failed to be ratified by the deadline in July 1982. To become a constitutional amendment it would have required thirty-eight states, only thirty-five states would endorse it.

And God created woman

Historically and traditionally women have been considered inferior to men both physically and academically. Since antiquity, laws and religions have controlled their subjugation. Women could not own assets in their own names, keep a business, or be in control of their children or even of their own persons. Although Mary Astell and others had appealed previously for better opportunities for women, the first feminist manuscript appeared in 1792 titled A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft. Women's republican clubs demanded that liberty, equality, and fraternity be applied regardless of sex during the French Revolution, but the Code Napoléon extinguished the movement.

Lady Finger

    In 1872 I received a request like this and I did register and vote, for which I was arrested, convicted and fined $100. Excuse me if I decline to repeat the experience.
    Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906), U.S. suffragist, Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony, (1908).

Three decades earlier suffragist Anthony had been fined $100 fine for voting. Because she did not recognize her action as properly illegal she refused to pay it. Susan penned her reply to a political committee in 1902 after she received a post card reminding her to register to vote. It had been addressed to S. B. Anthony under the mistaken assumption that, as head of household, "S. B." ought to be a man. Newspapers, one headlining its front-page story, broadly reprinted her letter: "Susan B. Anthony Scores One."

The feminist movement actually began around 1848 in North America with Abigail Adams and Mercy Otis Warren when both advocated for the inclusion of women's emancipation in the US Constitution. By the 1847 Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan Brownell Anthony and Coffin Mott were leading a women's convention at Seneca Falls, New York. It was there The Seneca Falls Declaration on Woman's Right was issued that stipulated, 'full legal equality, full educational and commercial opportunity, equal compensation, the right to collect wages, and the right to vote." Soon after the convention the movement spread rapidly across America and quickly extended into Europe.

Eventually the demands of the women's suffrage for higher education, entrance into trades and professions, married women's rights to property, and the right to vote for women were conceded. Following the victory of 1920 women's suffrage in the United States, women still remained at odds on the issues of equal standing with men in opposition to a number of protective legislation that had been enacted in the 19th century. For example limiting the number of hours women could work a week and prohibiting women from certain high-risk careers. The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women was established in 1946 to protect equal political, economic, and educational rights for women throughout the world. In the 1960's feminism experienced a renaissance, principally in the United States. The National Organization for Women (NOW) was established in 1966 and by the early 70's over 400 local chapters had been formed. As a result, a large number of women moved into the workplace with 59.8% of civilian women over age 16 employed in 1997, compared to 37.7% in 1960.

Oh, pretty women

    Feminism was recognized by the average man as a conflict in which it was impossible for a man, as a chivalrous gentleman, as a respecter of the rights of little nations (like little Belgium), as a highly evolved citizen of a highly civilized community, to refuse the claim of this better half to self-determination.
    Percy Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957), The Family and Feminism, The Art of Being Ruled (1926).

Women's rights issues vary from "access to employment, education, child care, contraception, and abortion, to equality in the workplace, changing family roles, redress for sexual harassment in the workplace, and the need for equal political representation." This faction for the political, social, and educational equality of women with men has occurred mainly in Europe and the United States with its heredity in the humanism of the 18th century and in the Industrial Revolution. Through the ages feminism has been a doctrine based on the view that women should be given the rights, opportunities and treatment accorded to men.

The noun feminism is derived from the Latin word femina meaning 'woman' and dates back to 1895 as "the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes." Today it may mean something as simple as "an organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests." Many seem to think that the acquired rights and privileges of men are being threatened by the demand for equal rights and privileges for women and men, feminism is perceived by a number of women and men as going further than equality and claiming superiority for women. Depending on the context it is used in it can mean a great variety of ideals since the definitions have changed over the years; feminism has been converted by differing concepts that derive from what the group objectives may be.

Two researchers, Baumgardner & Richards, recently detailed the existence of seventeen kinds of feminism based on identity, including womanism. Other terms are post-feminism, neo feminism, liberal feminism, socialist feminism, materialist feminism, cultural feminism, and postmodernist feminism. Lately girl is being redefined in the framework of feminism. Girlie feminists say that feminism and girlishness can coexist under the same roof. By reclaiming the long ago fashion of girl culture they cultivate the pinks, the knitting and the makeup classifying these as their hallmarks of their feminism.

What womyn want

Clearly the usage of the words feminism and feminist are precarious. Specialized terms like womyn and feminazi do lead many to assume that equality does not, in many ways, exist. The resulting perception inescapably engages a struggle-whether to reach it, to stop it, or to paraphrase George Orwell make women "more equal than men". Even though the majority of advocates for feminism display beliefs in the interest of equality of the sexes, nevertheless the wide variety of agendas projected under the banner of feminism, along with so many extreme champions and adversaries of the movement today both terms feminism and feminist have become pejoratives to the point that oftentimes they become stigmatizing and are no longer useful in many coherent discussions.

Intermittently some feminists agree or disagree on a given usage's fairness or utility, but in many instances bring editorial protests until no one will dare to define what anyone else means by feminism. Given the passion of the emotions the issues presently attract and because these terms are unusable in many contexts, including several euphemisms, it's not surprising to hear many saying:
"I favor the equality of the sexes on all issues, but I'm no feminist."


Equal Rights Amendment Alice Paul, 1921



feminism (n.), feminist (adj., n.)

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Friday, January 08, 2010

The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa

    Her original name was Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada, and her chosen name as a nun was Theresa of Jesus. She came of a well-to-do noble family. She entered the Carmelite order (possibly in 1536). Much later she underwent (c.1555) a "second conversion," after which she experienced mystic visions. She had entertained a desire to found a house of reformed Carmelites (the Discalced, or Barefoot, Carmelites, living in strict observance of the rule) long before she had the opportunity in 1562 to found the Convent of St. Joseph in Ávila. Other foundations were made, and in the busy years that followed she traveled much to the various houses. She also founded convents of friars, having as her collaborator another great mystic, St. John of the Cross...

    The writings of St. Theresa have gained a steadily widening audience from the 16th cent. to the present; in 1970 Pope Paul VI named St. Theresa a Doctor of the Church, the first woman so honored. The Castilian in which St. Theresa wrote stems from common speech, and the imagery is rich but simple. Candor and overflowing spiritual strength lend a greater beauty to the sometimes terse, sometimes discursive expressions. Her works were dominated by love of God and characterized by humor, intelligence, and common sense.
    Theresa, Saint (Theresa of Ávila, Life and Literary Work

The age of Baroque art has been identified as the Catholic reaction to the advance of Protestantism. Baroque doubtless had papal Rome as its birthplace. Between the pontificates of Paul III from 1534 to 1549 and of Sixtus V in the 1580's, the popes led a successful military, diplomatic, and theological campaign against Protestantism. The Decrees of the Council of Trent planted the seeds of the Baroque in its dictates to artist. Efforts were made to draw Protestants back to the Catholic Church and they desired art to depict a clear meaning. Baroque styles were quite different from those of the Renaissance. Baroque possessed the same poses and gestures of Mannerism and sometimes combined with colored marbles and trompe l'oeil imitations. It is dynamic while Renaissance styles are relatively static. While naturalism thrived, Classicism was revised and further developed, and the two styles divided the tastes of the age with a third; the dynamic colorful, sensuous style characteristic of Reuben and Bernini.

Much of Giovanni Bernini's inexhaustible career was devoted to the adornment of St Peter's where his works unite sculpture with architecture and this exemplified the Councils orders. His artistic training was completed in Rome, where he worked all his life as official artist of the Popes and for the most significant noble families in Rome. The blueprint of St Peter's, which had been evolving since the days of Bramante and Michelangelo, had engaged all the leading architects of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, was completed for the most part by Bernini. Although he was a great and influential architect his fame lies primarily on his sculpture, which, like his architecture, expresses the Baroque spirit to perfection. It's expansive and dramatic and the component of time plays an important role in it.

One of the objectives of Baroque art was to stimulate an emotional response in the viewer. The Jesuits had a strong influence on art and architecture through the teachings of Saint Ignatius of Loyola advocating that the spiritual experience of the mysteries of the Catholic faith be deeply imagined, so much so as to be perceptible to the eye. Perhaps this is the reason why the themes of repentance, conversion and ecstasy were well liked in the religious art in both Catholic and Protestant countries. The unrestrained quality of baroque art and its refusal to limit itself to firmly defined spatial settings are met in The Ecstasy of St. Theresa in the Cornaro Chapel of the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria. In this chapel, Bernini draws on the full possessions of architecture, sculpture and painting to indict the entire area with crosscurrents of striking tension.

St Theresa was a nun of the Carmelite Order and one of the great mystical saints of the Spanish Counter-Reformation. Her conversion took place after the death of her father, when she fell into a series of trances, saw visions and heard voices:

    Beside me on the left appeared an angel in bodily form . He was not tall but short, and very beautiful; and his face was so aflame that he appeared to be one of the highest ranks of angels, who seem to be all on fire . . . In his hands I saw a great golden spear, and at the iron tip there appeared to be a point of fire. This he plunged into my heart several times so that it penetrated my entrails. When he pulled it out I felt that he took them with it, and left me utterly consumed by the great love of God. The pain was so severe that it made me utter several moans. The sweetness caused by this intense pain is so extreme that one can not possibly wish it to cease, nor is one's soul content with anything but God. This is not a physical but a spiritual pain, though the body has some share in it -- even a considerable share.
Feeling an unrelenting pain in her side she came to believe that its cause was the fire-tipped dart of Divine love which an angel had thrust into her breast and she expressed as making her swoon in delightful anguish:
    The pain was so great that I screamed aloud but at the same time I felt such infinite sweetness that I wished the pain to last forever. It was not physical but psychic pain, although it affected the body as well to some degree. It was the sweetest caressing of the soul by God.
This was interpreted at the time and ever since as a spiritual transport sexually expressed. Bernini employs the whole chapel as a theater for the production of this transcendental drama. The niche in which the holy event takes place is a proscenium crowned with a broken Baroque pediment and ornamented with polychrome marble. On either side of the chapel, portraits of the both living and dead members of the Cornaro family in sculptured opera boxes represent an audience as voyeurs watching the denouement of the heavenly moment with intense piety. Spectators are involved in the experience too, in which all the faithful are invited to participate as a member of the audience. Bernini shows the saint in ecstasy unmistakably a mingling of spiritual and physical passion, swooning back on a cloud, with an expression full of light and happiness the angel aims an arrow as his left hand holds the dress fabric with the same delicacy that echoes Michelangelo's Pieta.

The group is of white marble, and the artist goes to extreme intelligence in his management of textures in an attempt to balance naturalism with allegory: the clouds, rough monk's cloth, gauzy material, contrast against the smooth flesh of angel and saint and represents their joined and divine purity. The angel's feathery wings are all carefully differentiated, yet harmonized in visual and imaginative effect.

Light is the disguised element that Bernini uses to heighten this implied drama. From a hidden window the Holy Spirit rains down bronze rays intended to be seen as bursting forth from a painting of Heaven from the vault above. Several tons of marble seems to float in a haze of light, the winds of Heaven buoying draperies as the cloud ascends. It represents a sense of the infinite; space light and time. The remote mysteries of religion, taking a recognizable form, descend to meet the human world halfway, within the conventions of Baroque art and theatre. Bernini had much to do with the institution of the principles of visual illusion that guided both. He was perfectly familiar with the writing of plays, theatrical productions and stagecraft. In addition to the sculpture, and the balconies of family members engaged in meditation or disputes, there is a fresco of the Holy Ghost and angels in the vault. Color and light, spreading through the marble, the decorations, the fresco, along with the sense of theatrical action conveyed through the rays falling on Teresa come from the Holy Ghost, pulls together the whole scheme. The young English traveler, John Evelyn, sojourning to Rome in 1644, wrote:

    Bernini, a Florentine sculpture, architect, painter, and poet, gave a public opera . . . wherein he painted scenes, cut the statues, invented the engines, composed the music, writ the comedy and built the theatre.
The community of Baroque arts is reflected in the universal genius of Bernini and given his virtuosity, versatility, and the vast output, one should not suppose that he carried out his work unaided. He presided over whole companies of assistants who performed the heavy manual labor involved in rough shaping of the stone, transferring the figure from clay model to marble rock, cutting the main forms and outlines, casting the bronze. The critical tasks were always under the supervision of the master, who would direct each stage of production and place the finishing touches himself. Ruff Wittkower observed:
    in a critical study if Bernini's work, one would have to differentiate between works designed by him and executed by his own hand; those to a greater or lesser extent carried out by him; others where he firmly held the reins but contributed little or nothing to the execution; and finally, those works for which he did no more that a few preliminary sketches.

In the Catholic countries, every device of art is used to stimulate pious emotion sometimes to the pitch of rapture. The papacy of that era was intent on systemizing and ingraining orthodox Catholic doctrine and the Council of Trent firmly resisted Protestant objections to the use of images in religious worship. Mysticism is often associated with a loss of control, an affliction reserved for religious fanatics or the insane. Artists and saints may also be assigned to these categories. Women like Theresa of Avila have been considered by some, to be quite mad, therefore dangerous. But to claim one's spiritual life and then to practice it is a measure of one's faith. To an unbeliever this may seem far-fetched, but to a Protestant then, because the sculpture's sexual overtones invited a psychological interpretation many considered Bernini's work distasteful.

Amid this historical relationship between God, this sixteenth century nun, Bernini's interpretation of her trances and the resulting sculpture The Ecstasy of St. Teresa; one can easily get caught up in the moment while viewing the relationship between divinity and humanity. Bernini unveils the human spirit within a religious union with St Theresa's God that celebrates the fervor and pleasure of female holiness. This isn't your garden-variety encounter, but one whose ecstatic charge has the power of the Almighty behind it. It's almost enough to make a girl want to run out and become a Carmelite! The point of Baroque art was part and parcel of furthering the mission and goals of the Catholic Counter-Reformation were to draw Protestants back to the Catholic Church. His work is at its heart a fundamentally Catholic vision and response to the Protestant reformation. If Protestantism called for austerity, in life, emotions, and art, the counter-reformation responded with increased emotionality. When Bernini captured these moments of ecstasy and transformation, they become metaphors of conversion to Catholicism. Never before had a sculpture conveyed the intense spiritual experience in such a provocative and outrageous way.

Bernini accurately foresaw that his standing would decline after his death. For the Neoclassical taste of the eighteenth century his advance in sculpture was and abomination, to John Ruskin in the nineteenth century it seemed 'impossible for false taste and base feeling to sink lower', and to the supporters of the idea of 'truth to materials' in the twentieth century he materialized, in the words of his most well-known apologist, Rudolf Wittkower, as 'Antichrist personified'. In the centuries after his death in 1680, his genius was downplayed and his works derided. The unabashedly physical connections of spirit and nature of the Ecstasy aroused impassioned associations and generated moral reservations from many during the second half of the eighteenth century; however, it was on par with the contemporary artists and is perhaps the single greatest example of Baroque from seventeenth century Italy. Bernini's summative art was the Catholic rejoinder to the Protestant reformation, using emotions at their most severe to respond to the austerity of Protestantism. It was called the counter-reformation and its heroes and heroines were Catholic saints caught by Bernini in the act of conversion. It is only of late that he has come to benefit from a status, equivalent with his position in his lifetime, as the greatest sculptor since Michelangelo and one of the giants of Baroque architecture.


Theresa, Saint (Theresa of Ávila),The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-05.
Accessed August 12, 2005.

De La Croix, Horst, Richard D. Tansey, and Diane Kirkpatrick.
Art Through the Ages. University of Michigan: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Cornaro Chapel, Rome:

Justus, Kevin. "Art and Culture II." Tucson , Arizona.
1992. (Lecture presented at Pima Community College.)

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