Robert L. Peters

22 January 2010

Happy Birthday, Dr. Kornelsen!


Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba

Best wishes on this ostentatious day, Jennifer! (Your mother dug up this old photo of you last night while we were talking about your arrival on this planet back in the seventies… you may find it encouraging to know that if the Neurophysiologist gig isn’t working out for you, or becomes boring, you might still have a shot at success being a bunny—the advantage of being both smart and cute).

Smile for the camera…


A capitalist pyramid…


Cleveland, Ohio (99 years ago)

“The Pyramid of Capitalist System is a provocative illustration of the hierarchical system of capitalist rule in America. In this beautifully colored portrait, the artist depicts the multiple tiers of working class oppression. At the top of the pyramid sits the state, which serves the interests of the ruling class and functions under capitalism as the protector of private wealth and property. Below the state stand the religious leaders, clergymen, and preachers of false consciousness who encourage obedience to and acceptance of the status quo, entreating the working masses to accept their ordained fate and seek their just rewards not on earth but in that glorious hereafter.

If obedience cannot be encouraged it will surely be enforced by the members of the next tier… beneath the military sit the parasite class, the bourgeoisie, who exploit the toilers of the world and profit by their labor power.

Beneath it all, bearing the weight of the entire system, are the workers who produce all things fundamental to the perpetuation of life and the continuation of this system. Thus, in addition to illustrating the multi-layered oppression and exploitation of workers, this image also begs the question, “what would happen to capitalism if the workers simply withdrew their support?”

Poster image: Pyramid of Capitalist System, issued by Nedeljkovich, Brashick and Kuharich, Cleveland: The International Publishing Co., 1911.

21 January 2010

Celebrity flashbacks… from Ronald.





Buenos Aires, Argentina

Back in the 1960s, my good friend Ronald Shakespear was also something of a photographer—a collection of his images were published in the book Caras y Caritas, and he’s shared some of his reminiscences in a blog posting (from which I’ve paraphrased the following snip)…

One day in 1964, I took a plane to Spain to go see Orson Welles, who lived near Juan Perón in Puerta de Hierro. I knocked on his door, without an appointment, and was surprised that he opened the door to me—it did not matter that I had arrived “just like that.” There he was, the great Orson, washing down an old Buick (which never actually ran). The fact that I had no appointment mattered not at all: “Never ask permission,” he said, “Never.”

That cemented my admiration for him. He invited me to the Plaza de Toros de Madrid, I spent a lovely afternoon and took some pictures that I still love (even though the originals were lost by Atlantis magazine after they were published). We spent an unforgettable afternoon watching the master bullfighter Curro Giron… then we went to the Plaza butchery (to buy meat) and Giron gave the bull’s ears to Orson.

Above images (all photos by Ronald Shakespear): film director Orson Welles (1915-1985) in Madrid, 1962; Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, (1899-1986), already blind at the time of the photo, in Mexico, 1964; Argentine jazz pianist Enrique “Mono” Villegas (1913-1986) at a friend’s house in BA, 1964. The book cover of Caras y Caritas, design by Rubén Fontana.

Some things I did not know…




19 January 2010

R.I.P. Kate McGarrigle (1946-2010)…


Saint-Sauveur, Quebec

Kate… you will be missed by many in this land, and beyond.


18 January 2010

Wise words…

Anyone that knows me likely also knows that I love (and collect, and occasionally share) wise words and quotations. On the weekend I was rummaging through some paper-stacks that have lain relatively undisturbed for years in my somewhat-organized home library, and I re-encountered an assortment of odd gems—including the following good-uns…

I quote others only the better to express myself.

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592 )

I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.

—Wilson Mizner (1876-1933)

We are no more than God’s imagination about himself.

—Thomas Mann (1875-1955)

The world is a tragedy to those who feel,
but a comedy to those who think.

—Horace Walpole (1717-1797)

A child of five would understand this.
Send someone to fetch a child of five!

—Groucho Marx (1890-1977)

Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

To him who is in fear, everything rustles.

—Socrates (469 BC-399 BC)

Education is when you read the fine print.
Experience is what you get if you don’t.

—Pete Seger (1919—  )

He of whom many are afraid ought to fear many.

— Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

Everything has been thought of before—
the problem is to think of it again.

—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

There is no such thing as a pretty good omelette.

—French proverb

Many a scarecrow serves as a roost of the enlightened crow.


The man who can’t visualize a horse
galloping on a tomato is an idiot.

—André Breton (1896-1966)

Please feel free to share with me the quotations that touch your own soul, tickle your fancy, or blow your mind, OK? You can contact me here.


16 January 2010

you are beautiful







(tell someone today)

15 January 2010

GDC/MB AGM… and Objectified.


Winnipeg, Canada

This year’s Annual General Meeting of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada/Manitoba Chapter will be held at the Park Theatre, 698 Osborne Street in Winnipeg at 19:00 on Tuesday, 19 January 2009. In addition to the expected conduction of business maters, mingling, door prizes, snacks and drinks, the GDC will be screening director Gary Hustwit’s recently-launched documentary film Objectified—an exploration of our complex relationship with manufactured objects and the people who design them.

Free to all comers, GDC members or not…

14 January 2010

Jennifer shares | Part One

Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba

Over the past few months, I have enjoyed the occasional opportunity (perhaps once a week), of driving into the city with Ev’s eldest daughter, Jennifer Kornelsen, Ph.D.  I learn a lot from Jen. She’s a researcher in Neurophysiology with Canada’s National Research Council, where she conducts brain-related studies using cutting-edge fMRI technology. This week, she shared with me the Three Things About Science I Learned from Patrick (Patrick Stroman, Ph.D.), Jen’s Ph.D. supervisor (before she headed off for a stint of postdoctoral work at Stanford)… I found these profundities she shared to apply equally well to design—so I thought I’d share them here:

1)  The simplest explanation is the best. (i.e. the most likely, the most accurate, the most truthful)

2)  The data is what it is. (trust it, let it be…)

3)  If you’re nervous and think you’re going to puke, eat something colourful! (at least then it will be Spectacular!)

Thanks Jen. I look forward to gleaning more from you over time…

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