"Voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone ..." William Wordsworth
29 November 2018
We now settled into a routine which has ever since served in my mind as an archetype, so that what I still mean when I speak of a "normal" day (and lament that normal days are so rare) is a day of the Bookham pattern. For if I could please myself I would always live as I lived there. I would choose always to breakfast at exactly eight and to be at my desk by nine, there to read or write till one. If a cup of good tea or coffee could be brought me about eleven, so much the better. A step or so out of doors for a pint of beer would not do quite so well; for a man does not want to drink alone and if you meet a friend in the taproom the break is likely to be extended beyond its ten minutes. At one precisely lunch should be on the table; and by two at the latest I would be on the road. Not, except at rare intervals, with a friend. Walking and talking are two very great pleasures, but it is a mistake to combine them. Our own noise blots out the sounds and silences of the outdoor world; and talking leads almost inevitably to smoking, and then farewell to nature as far as one of our senses is concerned. The only friend to walk with is one (such as I found, during the holidays, in Arthur) who so exactly shares your taste for each mood of the countryside that a glance, a halt, or at most a nudge, is enough to assure us that the pleasure is shared. The return from the walk, and the arrival of tea, should be exactly coincident, and not later than a quarter past four. Tea should be taken in solitude, as I took it as Bookham on those (happily numerous) occasions when Mrs. Kirkpatrick was out; the Knock himself disdained this meal. For eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably. Of course not all books are suitable for mealtime reading. It would be a kind of blasphemy to read poetry at table. What one wants is a gossipy, formless book which can be opened anywhere. The ones I learned so to use at Bookham were Boswell, and a translation of Herodotus, and Lang's History of English Literature. Tristram Shandy, Elia and the Anatomy of Melancholy are all good for the same purpose. At five a man should be at work again, and at it till seven. Then, at the evening meal and after, comes the time for talk, or, failing that, for lighter reading; and unless you are making a night of it with your cronies (and at Bookham I had none) there is no reason why you should ever be in bed later than eleven. But when is a man to write his letters? You forget that I am describing the happy life I led with Kirk or the ideal life I would live now if I could. And it is essential of the happy life that a man would have almost no mail and never dread the postman's knock. C.S. Lewis
"The strength of a man’s virtue should not be measured by his special exertions but by his habitual acts.” Blaise Pascal
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Cold Maker, Winter, 1909
"Barring love I'll take my life in large doses alone--rivers, forests, fish, grouse, mountains. Dogs."
TAO TE CHING, Lao Tzu
The Lone Boat, North Woods Club, Adirondacks, 1892
And how can man die better / Than facing fearful odds / For the ashes of his fathers / And the temples of his gods
Waterhouse, Boreas, 1903
WHITE HORSES Far out at sea / There are horses to ride, / Little white horses / That race with the tide. / Their tossing manes / Are the white sea-foam, / And the lashing winds / Are driving them home- / To shadowy stables / Fast they must flee, / To the great green caverns / Down under the sea. Irene Pawsey
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"Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed nonage. Nonage is the inability to use one's own understanding without another's guidance. This nonage is self-imposed if its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in indecision and lack of courage to use one's own mind without another's guidance. Dare to know! Sapere aude. 'Have the courage to use your own understanding,' is therefore the motto of the enlightenment."
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IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
"You see George, you've really had a wonderful life. Don't you see what a mistake it would be to just throw it away?"
Spitzweg, The Bookworm, 1850
"Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.” Fernando Pessoa
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"Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats. But this business, alas, is fatal to the placid moods and fine other-worldliness of the poet."
"I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea."
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"We're just dancing in the rain ..."
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I'm reading ...
Unlikely General: "Mad" Anthony Wayne and the Battle for America
"I have stretched ropes from steeple to steeple; Garlands from window to window; Golden chains from star to star ... And I dance."
"When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”