"Voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone ..." William Wordsworth
24 January 2021
The great artists of the past were aware that human life is full of chaos and suffering. But they had a remedy for this and the name of that remedy was beauty - the beautiful work of art brings consolation in sorrow and affirmation in joy. It shows human life to be worthwhile. Many modern artists have grown weary of this sacred task. No longer does art have a sacred status. No longer does it raise us to a higher, moral, or spiritual plain. It is just one human gesture among others, no more meaningful than a laugh or a shout. Art once made a cult of beauty. Now we have a cult of ugliness instead. Since the world is disturbing, art should be disturbing, too. Those who look for beauty in art are just out of touch with modern realities. Sometimes the intention is to shock us, but what is shocking first time round is boring and vacuous when repeated. This makes art into an elaborate joke, though one by now that has ceased to be funny. Yet the critics go on endorsing it, afraid to say the emperor has no clothes.
"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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"It is a very great mistake to imagine that the object of loyalty is the authority and interest of one individual man, however dignified by the applause or enriched by the success of popular actions."
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
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
"There are those who love to get dirty and fix things. They drink coffee at dawn, beer after work. And those who stay clean, just appreciate things. At breakfast they have milk and juice at night. There are those who do both, they drink tea.”
"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."
"Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every conceived notion, follow humbly wherever and whatever abysses nature leads, or you will learn nothing."
"Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained."
"Whoever wants music instead of noise, joy instead of pleasure, soul instead of gold, creative work instead of business, passion instead of foolery, finds no home in this trivial world of ours."
"Certainly work is not always required of a man. There is such a thing as a sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected."
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
"Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes)."
"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."
"We all come from our own little planets. That's why we're all different. That's what makes life interesting."
"We're just dancing in the rain ..."
"If, then, I were asked for the most important advice I could give, that which I considered to be the most useful to the men of our century, I should simply say: in the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you."
"It is hard to go on living without some hope of encountering the extraordinary."
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.”