Another semester, another letter….

[The monthly letter I write to my class — this semester/month I taught Art History to the Modern Age.]

Students and scholars,

I have no stupid students.  Rarely have I encountered one at a college or university in my classes  — naive, often; lazy, occasionally; manipulative, no more than in daily life; filled with curiosity awaiting someone to call it forth and feed it, sometimes.  And I hope for the latter in every class and patiently feed that part of you, challenge it, and if I am fortunate and you are cooperative, that part comes out of hiding or develops (to your surprise).

That is the whole point of this: to feed your wonder, your ability to be open to seeing the world and the works of other humans and yourselves as, in great part, mysterious and not necessarily exactly what you habitually take them to be.

Because those “habits of thought and feeling” came from somewhere other than yourself, probably, usually, and that place is what the main tradition in philosophy I follow — that of Jose Ortega y Gasset and Vital Reason — calls “other people,” simply:

Your culture, the surroundings you were raised within.  It was designed, almost offhandedly and unconsciously by “the others” to encourage you to fit in and, to be honest, just shut up and go along with the program, whatever the program was.

People around you were taught, like you, to never be disagreeable and to “know your place,” and others, rest assured, are always willing to anonymously assign you your place.  They can also be counted on to become uncomfortable if you start asking questions and become dissatisfied with the inadequate responses I can promise you will get in return if you become serious about genuine, intensive questioning and demanding the answers that you truly need to make sense of the world and your humanity once they appear to you in all their mystery and confusion and paradox.

Once you stand before yourself in intense and conscious examination and put the world around you on trial… you will find how little you truly know about both and how much you need to learn to create a future for yourself worth living; you will discover there is no “ready-made” life for you worth living, no “ready-made” answers that you don’t, at the very least, have to re-learn the need, the neediness and poverty of soul and self, that led others to create or discover answers for themselves and their community.

This uniquely human activity of attempting to see things from the point of view of another person in their world, to re-live their lives in abbreviated form and grasp why they made the choices they did and created what they did — agreeably or disagreeably to or for you — is what we call “history.”

Learning the motives of the choices of actual people who once lived and created and revolted and even destroyed — learning their impoverishment and discomfort with previous answers to the problem that is living within their given circumstance, why and how they tried to fill in that poverty with rich — or not so rich and adequate — ideas and beliefs and mythic interpretations so they could keep building a truly meaningful life:  That is the activity of being an historian.
You’ve begun to think historically this month, each of you to some degree, some more than others.  Hopefully, once the need to see why things are as they are now is fully awakened in you, if it is one fortunate day, you, too, can then turn to your own self caught within your own circumstances and search out ideas and beliefs that are true and not simply designed to shut you up and shut you down, to keep you “in your place”… on that fine day, you will feel the real need to think historically.

And I’ve introduced you to how to go about it — there’s much, much more to learn about that, but you have, now, the basic tools to learn how to learn.


If you took this class even a bit seriously.

If not, perhaps you will, on the day you really feel the need to because you awaken to what you lack and how shabbily our culture treats you and you decide to get up, be dissatisfied with that, and seek to live a truly meaningful life — a life in search of and in the service of genuinely meaningful values and ideas for yourself and others — on that day, you will at least remember this foolish letter and use it as a treasure map to retrace your steps and go learn how to learn history.

Now, we also studied art — a very rapid, superficial survey that dipped into the river of the past here and there.  That was sufficient as an introduction, a handshake with where we came from, or one of the threads of where we came from.

A more complete handshake would have involved introductions to art from Africa and the Middle East and Asia and the Americas and the Pacific Islands and Australia.

Other threads, other ideas, other cultures, other people who play a mysterious, though equally real, role in the vision of who you are and how we got here.  People and ideas you may be tempted to believe have nothing to do with you — you’ve been taught that, perhaps, either actively or by your education leaving “those people” out.

But you don’t know, do you?  And I’m not going to to tell you — I’ll leave you with an experience of ignorance, which is just another word for discovering how mysterious the world is.

Nothing is wrong with discovering one’s own ignorance.  We all begin with ignorance and remain ignorant until we seek to alleviate ourselves of it.  That is the true beginning of learning.

The truly terrible thing is to be ignorant of one’s ignorance or, worse, to find it and not really care.  To just shrug and say, as “the others” have taught you, “it’s unimportant.”  It’s not for someone in “your place” to inquire into such matters.

I’ll only tell you: You’ve been lied to.  It’s your birthright and responsibility as a human being to know and to divest yourself of as much ignorance as possible and to assist others to go and tell you about what you cannot learn on your own.

Be satisfied with nothing less.

Your true place, your true destiny, your true path that will be your future, your very own future — not where some anonymous “others” and their institutionalized nonsense decided to send you well before your birth because you were born in a certain place, or to people who had little money, had a color of skin slightly darker than mine at all, or some combination of the above.  All of that is what you were handed by coming into the world.

I’m here to tell you, as if you didn’t know, there’s not one damn thing wrong with any of you regardless of your skin color, of how much or little money you were born into, who you love, or whatever patch of dirt Fate decided to place you on at the start.

There’s not one thing wrong with you at all regardless of what the society and the law around you and the “others” who told you and keep telling you who you “should” be, keep using derogatory terms and stereotypes denigrate you, say.

Not at all.

You are invaluable.  You each have a great beauty, a destiny beyond what you’ve imagined, and a genuine task to create a much better world than you were handed.  You get to choose what the future will be for you and for others.  You get to change things for the better — what an amazingly valuable thing!

I expect it of you.  I’m nobody, really, from one point of view, but I’ll keep telling you and all my students that anyway and showing that in my art, philosophy, and in the propaganda I churn out.  That’s my destiny, the one of many I chose from what life offered, and I’m most happy and myself within it.

You have your own where you will do the same in your own way for yourself and others.  You will discover it in your own good time… if you want it.

Finally, I’ll say one last thing.

Some have kept asking, “What has art and art history got to do with my career and my job?  What am I going to use that for?” and I’ve kept suggesting answers.

“Other people,” if you told them what class you had, asked you the same thing, I’m certain, and especially asked that last question that isn’t a question, but an assumption: “What am I going to use that for?”  The assumption in that rhetorical question is: “If it’s not immediately useful, it’s not valuable.”

You know what?  This is the point I answer your question with another one: “Who told you that art and history were things someone like you shouldn’t value?  Why shouldn’t things like that — things valuable to human beings from prehistory through the present day — be in your life as well?

“Why do you feel no need for them and why don’t they speak to you as they speak to humans in general — even back to prehistoric times when no one had to go to college, of all places, to feel a vital, deep, important connection to images and music and such?

“Where did you get the message that something like the value of van Gogh’s “Irises” can be measured in “dollars” when van Gogh, who made it, did not do it for dollars or francs or anything of the sort?

“Who told you that work, labor, career, jobs, are the main thing you exist for and your value is completely determined by whether everything you value or do serves a job and your usefulness to an employer?

“Is that not odd?

“While work — meaningful work — is essential and money is required to exist in our society, is that all life is?  Monetary value and something being ‘useful’?”

I’ll stop there.  Because until you can get past those questions, not just bypass those questions, I’ve revealed for you one of the walls society and “the others” have constructed to keep you “in your place.”

You should be very dissatisfied, even angry you were so shortchanged and sold a lie like that.  You should notice how I walk through what is a wall for you as if it were just air to me.  Not because I am better than you — I’ve already told you that is nonsense; but because I know better than what you’ve been taught to believe.

Our beliefs limit us.  Examine your beliefs to see whether they are true and where they came from.  Their history.  See if you want to limit yourself in such a way — and then you’ll be able to answer every question I set before you above as if they were the easiest things in the world.

That’s your mystery and task I leave you with in my own words.

And here’s the lyrics of a song I listen to often… it’s been the theme of this month for me:

On our way to crush the revolution
Camp by a lake in the blackened lands
Dealing out love and retribution
Dealing out the dead man’s hand

We’ve all known the pain
And we’re all gonna hurt again and again
Empire’s got you by the balls
And sleep keeps awake for the tear
And it’s calling you
Pulling you back here

On our way to crush a revolution
Lost in the caves of a used-up place
Night comes down with all its implication
Something brushing against your face

And we’ve all known fear
And we’re all gonna find more of it here

Empire’s got you by the balls
And you wish that you never appeared
And it’s pulling you
Pulling you back here
(Where are we)
(Where are you)

On the way to crush the revolution
Wilderness and its burning bush
The enemy seeks our dissolution
All he needs is a little push

And we’ve all known hurt
And we’re all gonna find it here in this dirt

Empire’s got you by the balls
And war keeps drawing near
And it’s pulling you
Pulling you back here

The Church, “Dead Man’s Hand”

Mr.  Ingram

[Richard Van Ingram – 28 August 2015]



Intimations of Mortality

I perceive the change in seasons before others do, especially the change from summer to autumn which is often a time of devastation, death, or severe change. Fate linked me inextricably with the sun and lengthening or shortening of the shadows as the sun rises or falls by degrees in the sky — science calls this Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of light-linked depression. But that’s science and my life is more than science, deeper, broader, contains an interiority that science cannot know anything about as I experience it directly. It’s the same with you, all of you.

Leaves begin to dry up and fall, trees barely, almost imperceptibly change color, lighten a bit, even here in San Antonio where there is hardly any change in temperatures. But the sun does as it does as the earth tilts and moves and does her dance that I experience as the day star also sinking toward the horizon shortening the days.

Trees and plants, too, have my disorder. We are equally disordered.

But it’s the dread that begins to come along, the memories of all the disasters of autumn or the cataclysms, tragic and comic, and some just absurd. One is set up to expect more of the same.

Probably, from the interior of my life where no one but me and Deity and The Angel can see, that dread, the anticipation of “more of the same” is as much a cause of the depression that may or may not follow as the change by degrees of the sun. But the disasters and hilarity and absurdity are in the hands of fate. Things go as they go regardless of whether I approve or not and autumn is an inevitability, even if the heat remains like a bright lie in the midst of shadowy truth.

Perhaps we are not allowed to go from this place until our mission is complete, whatever it is, and once completed or we fail so badly the mission cannot be salvaged, it could be we may not remain. We must go on to the next thing.

Pure speculation that most people I like, love, and admire would find ridiculous, but they seem to accept my poetic ridiculousness. My coat many colors is just a beggar’s patchwork of seeming nonsense, anyway that replaced the original cloth or normalcy long ago, bit by bit.

But it could be that “reality” is such a patchwork, also; interpretations that serve us well or not, that allow us to plan ahead and live richer lives and accomplish something, some sort of fixing and repair in our day, our moment beneath the sky whether bright or smouldering with those jewels in what we call night.

We each leave something behind whether we are remembered or not and the something we leave behind becomes the raw material for what is called “the future.” Whether what we leave behind is of value to the others who remain or come along even many years after our departure is, at least in part, up to us. With care or carelessly, mindfulness or mindlessly, selfishly or in devotion to values beyond ourselves, we all leave behind a direction within our own ambit, a direction others will be left to deal with as a help or a hinderance.

My life and your life and the lives of us all are intertwined and intermixed, even while none may be substituted for another and one interior perspective cannot be exchanged with others. But we may share, reach out, make the attempt. And we do change the small portion of reality that we touch.

For good or ill. For good and ill.

My dread will remain close but I’ve learned to go on living and doing as I must and attempt to figure out how I should act, what I should choose, who I should be and become. Keep at the work.

Richard Van Ingram
20 August 2015


A Defense of the Liberal Arts

[I choose to write a letter to my students from time to time to remind them of the importance of the liberal arts to their working and private lives….]


We’re in week 3 and everyone is exhausted.  It’s that way in most every class every month and this one is worse than most for some of you: Some of you are still convinced this class has nothing to do with your life because it has nothing to do with your career.  After all, few of you will become artists or art historians.  But, then again, few of you will become mathematicians or statisticians or writers, either, but it isn’t as if you learn nothing valuable studying them.

But what of value are you getting out of this?

Some of you are getting a grade and getting a requisite course out of the way… and that’s all you want.  You may not care to even wonder what else there is to have from a course about history and art and art and history.  You don’t care.  The end.

If that is the attitude a student approaches anything with — a class, a marriage, a job, a career, a friendship, a child — that you’ll take the path of least resistance and put no effort into something, pay as little attention as you can get away with, and not even attempt to wonder at something you don’t automatically understand… so you have no sense of neediness, no need to understand or desire — the results will be poor.

I, as an instructor, cannot put the desire to learn into anyone except myself and I am an eternal student, always learning something:  I learn something from all of my students whether they know it or not and most never have any idea I’m paying attention, much less taking things in and adjusting how and what I teach each month.

Why?  Because it is important to me as both a human and an instructor, for my life first and last and for my work secondly.

And that’s the way all things you truly learn are — they are for your life as a human first and last, to improve you, to increase your capacity to live at the height of your times, to learn who you are, which you cannot do without understanding the world — you are never you alone, but with and because of all that has gone before you, which is history and pre-history, culture, and most of all life, human life, which is inherently creative.  This includes gaining an understanding, even if minimal, of things in your world that you begin thinking affect you and you alone not in the least.

Including the culture and examples of human creativity left behind as evidence in the artifacts we create.  These, at the very least, show you life, the ongoing experiment that is the human way of being, and how it was before you arrived, creating the portion of the world you inhabit, the beliefs of how you should view existence and limit your choices about how to live… if you can’t learn how to question and be creative and hope for something more and better.

At the moment, I am showing you the Italian and Northern Renaissance — a moment when people became tired of seeing the world as something to be suffered through and power as something for others inherited by birth, not effort.  A moment when some people decided to try out a huge variety of ways to live, to experiment again, to re-learn what was abandoned in the distant, ancient past and open a way to a different, more interesting future.  A moment when people began to wake up to the very idea of “history” and change: That things have not always been as they have been for a very long time and that if we make different choices now, the future need not look like the past.

And that hopefulness is in the art — humans and human life in the only place we are given at this moment to live, this world, this now, here, with what we are given, are worthy of notice, care, and valuing.

As I said in class, the Renaissance, as beautiful as it was, is an in-between time; people have not decided who to be so the best of them try to be everything, which is the notion of “the Renaissance man”: someone good at everything or many things… because they truly aren’t exactly sure whom they should make themselves, which particular path to choose.  Being a “Renaissance man” is both a good and bad thing — it is being so unsure of what exactly one should do that they attempt to do everything equally well.  For no other reason than they are completely in doubt about the future, have no particular path, so they try to take all available paths.

Worse than having no career, they have no sure destiny, no sure way to live and be… it’s a moment of hope and creativity, yet doubt and need to have a destiny, a sure mission.  Eventually, the work of all these people will pay for the people who come after them — the people will have left to them a wide variety of creative possibilities previously unavailable to humans in what we call the Middle Ages from which they will choose.  And they will choose.  That’s how we got here the way we did, for better and worse.

That’s what we’re studying by looking at the pictures of the evidence of the people from the past and their changing attitudes and discoveries; we are seeing the seeds of our own destinies being sown.

Is that important for you?  Objectively, yes.  More important than most things that may preoccupy your lives at the moment short of family and staying alive.  Subjectively, whether or not you take the opportunity to receive what I am offering and do the work to learn, to desire to understand, to play with the desire to understand — that is your choice.

Grade or no grade, that is always your choice.  Life will dole you out a grade even if there is no one like me around to do it for you, and life can be far harsher than me, much more unforgiving, less merciful.  I am preparing you for life in my own odd way with material that seems — but only seems — unrelated to living.

I am giving you some tools and arms to go fight with life and demand something better from it than it’s going to turn over to you otherwise.  Life is stingy, miserly, and will not surrender the better without great effort and understanding on your part.

“But my career,” you’re still saying to yourself, “has nothing to do with art, history, or art history.”

Do you have any idea how many times you may have to change “careers” in your life?

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (the government agency that keeps such statistics at

A BLS news release published in March 2015 examined the number of jobs that people born in the years 1957 to 1964 held from age 18 to age 48. The title of the report is “Number of Jobs Held, Labor Market Activity, and Earnings Growth among the Youngest Baby Boomers: Results from a Longitudinal Survey.” The report is available on the BLS web site at:

“These younger baby boomers held an average of 11.7 jobs from ages 18 to 48. (In this report, a job is defined as an uninterrupted period of work with a particular employer.) On average, men held 11.8 jobs and women held 11.5 jobs.

“From ages 18 to 48, some of these younger baby boomers held more jobs than average and others held fewer jobs. Twenty-seven percent held 15 jobs or more, while 10 percent held zero to four jobs. For additional statistics on the number of jobs held, see the tables at: .”

Now, that is the generation just prior to mine as I am at the front of Generation X, born about 1965 – 1980, (I was February 1966); and they are far more stable and had a better economic situation than my generation.  Most of you are Gen Y or Millennials and you can about bet, on average, that you will at least change jobs on average every 4, 4.5 years.

Changing jobs that often means you will have many more than one career over the average lifespan.  You have to be flexible, have to be capable of re-training yourself, not overspecializing, not becoming utterly obsolete and unemployable.   Which means, just for the purposes of work, not a rich and decent life, you must be able to think abstractly and learn to creatively apply ideas quickly and better than others.  You must be far-thinking, farsighted, you must be well aware of where we are, where have been, and so be able to look ahead and take an educated guess where we will head next.

My parents’ generation, born in the early 1940s, could count on having one career, at worst two, and retire with a pension and benefits.  That way of work is gone.  It has been since 1980 or so.

This will seem a bizarre comparison, but stick with it to get the lesson: When Great Britain was an empire and the sun never set on it as they had so many colonies it ringed the globe (and this did not end until within my lifetime), they trained their common people, people who would go on to become everything from administrators to officers in the military to newspaper writers, by sending them to schools that gave them a classical education in the Liberal Arts.

They learned things like Latin and Greek well enough to read their classics in the original, they learned to write poetry, even if badly, in these languages, they learned their history, including art history, their philosophy and its history, their Shakespeare and Donne and Romantic poets.  To become teachers of these things?  No: For their careers as diplomats, officers who fought wars and led men in vicious combat often and well, as correspondents who kept their citizens informed from all over the world, their businessmen, their surgeons, you name it.

Because the Liberal Arts, as I wrote you at the beginning of the class two weeks ago, free the mind from enslavement and prejudices of thought, allow one to become flexible and creative, make one free from ignorance and aware of ignorance and desire to fill in the gaps in knowledge independently.  They grant one a better ability to think on one’s feet, as we say, to plan ahead as we know how things have tended to go historically, to speak and write clearly and well because one can think clearly and well; to help one master oneself and learn to be responsible individually and as citizens.

I am contributing, or making a small offering in this class to you, to free your mind and soul so you can learn to be flexible and creative enough to have a good career each and every time you need to pick up a new set of skills quickly and learn to lead, not just be an employee at the bottom of things.  To be the person who stands out and makes a change in things, at work, at home, in your community, state, country, and world all because, most of all, you have taken care to master yourself and know who you are and how you got here.

Yes, you are tired.  I am tired, too, but here I’ve been, up since 3 AM composing this letter and working on your class.  And taking a class myself.  And being a husband.

Because it is important to me that you understand the true meaning of those words from Voltaire I quoted two weeks back, now: “The superfluous is the necessary.”

Mr. Ingram


Richard Van Ingram

17 August 2015


Just a Man

I suppose that some days I am “more human than human.” Memories are all we have of the past and they are always reconstructions that we make anew each time we call them forth — how many of them are fully what they seem? How real? How many are “more human than human”?

They are, in their effect on me, real enough.

They are always colored by where I am and who I have become and are expanded, contracted, reinterpreted, edited, changed by this and more… my feelings — the part of me I understand the least, trust the least — who knows how much they color and affect memory? All I know is that memories summon up feeling, even memories of theories and ideas and discovering or creating these.

I recall sitting at desks reading and thinking and considering, pushing hard to gain an understanding of myself and my world, years of it; years of reading, sitting alone in many places, some academic, some domestic, some underneath trees on campuses, some in the wild, some on the steps and porches of old buildings built in the fashion of Roman temples.

Anywhere I’d be alone with the old ghosts of dead people, communing, listening intensely, questioning them, often hearing silence but sometimes hearing their words, their answers, and their own questions.

I remember reading and walking streets of my “hometown” alone — more town than home where I was an alien in familiar territory; reading and sitting alone thinking, thinking, thinking in the abandoned homes of my great-grandmother and then my great-great uncle Charlie… a man I never met who died a decade before I was born but more real to me than my own parents, me and his ghost in communion in that old house, that photographer and tinkerer and man of technology who was more akin to me than my living relatives.

I have memories of him, too, and he was present in his absence, in the stories my great-aunt told me, my grandmother told me.

And the people I knew, grew up with… they are always in my memory, close to me, and people I’ve met and learned from along the way, many with no knowledge I learned anything from them, noticed many things, collected their words, their styles and mannerisms, their habits of belief and expression, their approaches… they are all there in my silence, my deep interior. Some were close to me in life, others not close at all. Some appearing close but forever away, dreams… some within my dream world, my fantasies, my guesses. Some enemies, some who opposed me and gave me something to avoid or push back against with all my limited abilities.

Some fully aware of their status as friend or enemy, some never conscious of it in the least. The judgment was within me and my choice. Most who’d not care at all what I thought and felt.

How odd.

The judgments toward myself… sometimes I’ve been my own enemy, less friend than others have been, less caring for my self; I’ve hated and abused myself more than many on the outside, or I replayed the small slights from the outer world, the harmful messages, or the physical and mental abuses, the terrible, barely tolerable situations I thought would never end, over and again until they became everything, became a reality I wrestled with constantly in my own self-constructed hell — the dead and gone returned to drag me to the depths within my own Inferno.

I heard the preachers I grew up with telling me I deserved my hell and more to come in a never-ending afterlife where God Himself would cast me down for my questions, my doubts, my interests in the beauty and wonder of women.

My memory is filled with pulpits and sermons and screaming.

I remember walking with a girl at school on the playground, admiring her intelligence and humor and how pretty and unlike — yet like — the Caliban she’d chosen to spend her time with, in her own exile; in later years I’d wonder about her interior world, too, too late to know much about it. But I was quiet and ashamed, never good enough for her in myself — part of it they call “introverted” to a maximum degree, part of it is shyness, a persistent loneliness and terror of reaching out for fear of rejection and the pain… too much for my young companion who needed a companion, the girl who would grow to womanhood and required a real companion, not a devoted worshipper and idolator. I became her brother, not companion, and we remain forever like those stars that remain circulating side by side but never touching, never, forever, and travelling a parallel path through space and time.

That is as it had to be.

And she faded into the dreamworld with time.


Fate is a large portion of my reality, and I learned to accept her, too, as neither friend nor foe, but just the ever-present. She goes through her life as I go through my own, and her life is not mindful of a small thing like me. She was not made to care but to act.

And I must act in return and build a life from what I am given to work with, not rail against it. If my choices are not good and affect others poorly, if they do not make for me a good life and of me a good person, the fault is my own, inasmuch as I had choice. This much my thinking and worrying and the life in communion with history and the dead has delivered up.

Regret… will remain ever-present. Another companion of my own construction. Regret at poor choices in the past. It reminds me not to squander the present. To show care to the people I love, to be a companion and friend to my wife, to be as much of a friend to people who care for me as possible, to be a good teacher and guide to my students, to make art of some effectiveness, to labor at it and not make shoddy things, though none of this is ever quite good enough… but at some point, some days, I must be satisfied with the “good enough.” Aiming at perfection I will never attain cannot stop me from arriving at the “good enough” I can accomplish for today, and the “a little better” I might get to tomorrow.

But all of this, for me, requires a greater measure of solitude than for most people. My life includes my fate, and my portion of fate is to spend the greater part of life on the interior before I can come outward in action and do anything of worth.

My angel, my destiny, is inside me, and there I wrestle him for my true name.

I am only good for some at a great distance. My habits of life are not for many or most. not tolerable, not interesting. Not many can bear the intensity of me when I come “out” into the world from my interior of contemplation, study, and self-torment. I must shield them from it in carefully chosen words and images, like the burning sun passing through stained glass — no one can “look into the eyes of the sun” but most can tolerate the eyes of the sun looking at them through a lens of subdued colored glass silently whispering a story.

It is not my superiority to my fellows that make me intolerable and difficult, but my inferiorities and flaws, the stuff from which I’ve made myself. One’s weaknesses and defects can be exploited to advantage, given time and labor, the way the Greeks made their rough coastal world a marvel or the Irish monks those forbidding little islands like Skellig Michael a place for protection and a rich, beautiful life. Complex cultures and and even civilizations have, with time and labor, been built up in even the least life-affirming portions of the world.

Memories are real enough. Good enough. I either build something from them or fate will take and work them into something that does not care for me or anyone else. They are not hers to play with until I am gone and only then in the form of whatever evidence I leave behind, for good or ill.

More human than human.

Not the Overman, but just a man.

Richard Van Ingram
15 August 2015