Such as your friend
Will never be welcome here
Too often the rigorous aspects of mind demand overcompliance, insisting that there will be no lightness. These aspects also imply that our inherent being lacks wisdom or any sense of beauty and consequently needs to be kept in line, restrained, tamed, subdued. For most of us, as we get in touch with our inner aesthetic, we learn to set aside what is not in accord with it. When we stop beating ourselves up, we begin to notice our inherent sweetness of heart.Many problems that arise in the pursuit of pleasure are due to a lack of devotion, to not being fully enough committed to pleasure, to connection. We put the problem on the object by labeling it sinful or decadent rather than acknowledging how we lose ourselves. Which bite of chocolate cake is no longer pleasurable? Which swallow of wine is bringing us down instead of up? Sure, restraint and discipline are needed, but not to deny pleasure, rather to curb excitement and greed when it runs away with us. Use restraint as needed for braking, rather than keeping the brakes on as a way of life!Please enjoy your food. When pleasure or enjoyment are harshly forbidden, we look for stupor, for unconsciousness, which is the closest we can get to relief from the misplaced drive to discipline and restraint and overriding admonition not to have fun. "Watch yourself! If I catch you having fun, I'll make you pay for it." Most often we come by these negative admonitions honestly through or early experiences in life. Still, it is not too late to change, to enjoy our food.
Edward Espe Brown, from No Recipe: Cooking as Spiritual Practice
Throughout the day we mulled over the not-exactly-metaphysical question of why we never, for more than a moment, allowed ourselves to be hungry. Could this possibly be why we were both seriously overweight? But only a fool jumps to negative conclusions about food, especially before dinner. Cuisine minceur notwithstanding, the quality of food diminishes sharply in proportion to negative thinking about ingredients and, simply put, the amount to be prepared. There is no substitute for Badia a Coltibuono olive oil. Period. Or the use of salt pork in the cooking of southwest France. Three ounces of chablis are far less interesting and beneficial than a magnum of Bordeaux. I have mentioned before that we are in the middle of yet another of the recurrent sweeps across our nation of the "less is more" bullies. When any of these arrive in my yard, I toss a head of iceberg lettuce and some dog biscuits off the porch.Let's all stop for a moment in our busy day and return to some eternal verities. It's quite a mystery, albeit largely unacknowledged, to be alive, and, quite simply, in order to remain alive you must keep eating. My notion, scarcely original, is that if you eat badly you are very probably living badly. You tend to eat badly when you become inattentive to all but the immediate economic necessities, real or imagined, and food becomes an abstraction; you merely "fill up" in the manner that you fill a car with gasoline, no matter that some fey grease-slinger has put raspberry puree on your pen-raised venison. You are still a nitwit bent over a trough.Jim Harrison, from "Hunger, Real and Unreal"
An exploration of the extraordinary achievement of the chronicler of the Italian Renaissance, Giorgio Vasari, author of the monumental Lives of the Artists.On a spectacular journey through Renaissance Italy, Andrew Graham-Dixon searches for the shadowy figure who wrote one of the most important books on art and looks at some dazzling works, including masterpieces of the early Renaissance by Giotto, Masaccio and Donatello.
When all the discussions of the position of man in the framework of government that had obsessed so many of the best minds of the century came to a focus in 1776, the chief preoccupation of the state-builders in America was to establish institutions in their new country which would allow each citizen enough elbow room to grow into individuality. They differed greatly on how best to bring about that state of affairs but there was no disagreement on fundamental aims. Protection of the individual’s happiness — the assurance of the elbow room he needed to reach his full stature — was the reason for the state’s existence.Thomas Jefferson and Gouverneur Morris held very differing views on the problems of government. Jefferson was an agrarian democrat who believed that every man was capable of taking some part in the government of the community; Morris was a city-bred aristocrat who believed that only men to whom wealth and position had given the advantage of a special education were capable of dealing with public affairs; but when Morris wrote George Washington his definition of statesmanship — “I mean politics in the great Sense, or that sublime Science which embraces for its Object the Happiness of Mankind” — he meant the same thing by the word happiness as Jefferson did when he wrote it into the Declaration of Independence. To both men it meant elbow room. Elbow room is positive freedom.Consult any sociologist today as to the meaning of happiness in the social context and he’ll be pretty sure to tell you it means adjustment. Adjustment, if it is freedom at all, is freedom of a very negative sort. It certainly is the opposite of elbow room.The outstanding fact you learn from reading the letters of the men of 1776 was that none of them had any illusions about how men behaved in the political scheme. A radical idealist like Jefferson allowed for the self-interest (real or imagined) of the average voter, or for the vanity and ambition and greed of the officeholder, as much as a cynical conservative like Gouverneur Morris.Both parties understood the common man as well as any of the more desperate demagogues we have with us today. They allowed for his self-seeking, for his shortsightedness, his timidity, his abominable apathy, his only intermittent public spirit. The difference was that the statesmen of the early republic used that “sublime Science” in the service of their great statebuilding aims. Using men as they found them, they managed to set up the system of balanced self-government which made possible the exuberant growth of the United States.In Jefferson’s day the average citizen had a fair understanding of most of the workings of the society he lived in. The years that stretch between us and the day of his death have seen the shape of industry transformed in rapid succession by steam power, electric power, the internal combustion engine, and now, by jet propulsion and the incredibly proliferating possibilities of power derived from nuclear fission and fusion. Any social system of necessity molds itself into shapes laid down by the daily occupations of the individual men who form its component parts. The mass-production methods of assembly-line industry have caused a society made up of individuals grouped in families to give way to a society made up of individuals grouped in factories and office buildings, for whom family life has been relegated to the leisure hours.
Since the increased attention which has been given to Meteorology, the study of the various appearances of water suspended in the Atmosphere is become an interesting and even necessary branch of that pursuit. If Clouds were the mere result of the condensation of Vapour in the masses of atmosphere which they occupy, if their variations were produced by the movements of the atmosphere alone, then indeed might the study of them be deemed an useless pursuit of shadows, an attempt to describe forms which, being the sport of winds, must be ever varying, and therefore not to be defined. But however the erroneous admission of this opinion may have operated to prevent attention to them, the case is not so with Clouds.Luke Howard, from "Essay on the Classification of Clouds"