…on a purely self-indulgent post

It is no secret that I love Ralph Waldo Emerson and on this day, 214 years ago, my favourite writer was born, and his genius is an abiding and immutable begetter of illumination and happiness for me, as is unceasing capacity to — in his own words — “astonish and fire.”

To honour him, the three passages I cherish above all:

To ever remind me of the worth of my own intellection, thought and written and spoken word:

“A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his own thought because it is his.” (from Self Reliance)

The esteem in which I hope he would hold my facility for the visual arts:

“All men are in some degree impressed by the face of the world; some men even to delight. The love of beauty is Taste. Others have the same love in such excess, that, not content with admiring, they seek to embody it in new forms. The creation of beauty is Art.” (from Nature)

And for capturing with his wondrous words, my feelings for my Gethyn, even after (just shy of!) 20 years of marriage:

“…and when the day was not long enough, but the night, too, must be consumed in keen recollections; when the head boiled all night on the pillow with the generous deed it resolved on; when the moonlight was a pleasing fever, and the stars were letters, and the flowers ciphers, and the air was coined into song; when all business seemed an impertinence, and all the men and women running to and fro in the streets, mere pictures.” (from Love)



Drawn by me!

…on NOT a paradox

How do I reconcile my atheism with my veneration (OK; obsession!) of Emerson; and specifically, my embrace of the Universal Being of Nature?

Well, THIS!

“Every civilisation; every religion across the world has a creation story. It tells of where we came from and how we came to be here; and of what will happen when we die. Well, I have a different creation story to tell; and it’s based entirely on Physics and Cosmology. It can tell us what we are made of and where we came from; in fact, it can tell us what everything in the world is made of and where it came from. It also answers that most basic of human needs to feel part of something much bigger, because to tell the story, you have to understand the history of the universe; and and it teaches us that the path to enlightenment is not in understanding of our own lives and deaths; but, the lives and deaths of the stars.”

– Professor Brian Cox, Wonders of the Universe

…on cats what ain’t cats

This captures one of my more creative moments: sitting in judgement on medieval artists; and these horrors can only be unseen by watching kitten videos on YouTube. Enjoy again…

A Classicist Writes...

…and debatably; art what ain’t art; I renounce that to the eye of the beholder. I encountered a medieval painting of a “cat,” which carried with it limitless hilarity; he/she/it resembled not – even in the smallest degree – Theo…or any other cat I have yet glimpsed for that matter. A Google search yielded finds likewise peculiar. One friend hypothesised that artists hadn’t grasped how to…grasp implements such as paintbrushes or palate knives; another – similarly to me – that it is an unattainable endeavour to persuade a cat to remain immobile; however, I have ultimately contemplated the unavoidable inference that these people just didn’t like cats!

I deviate from my, by now predictable, self-indulgent observations; many of which have been about art, to bring the reader yet new – and I use the term loosely – (medieval cat) art.


Untainted conjecture: this guy strayed from
his path to…

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…on haste

I appreciate the incongruity that my affirmation of Emerson’s conviction on intuition (the primary intellect; which transpires spontaneously, fleetly) is in any manner, germane to a discussion on haste.

There are myriad themes prevalent in the output of Emerson; including the espousal of non-conformity, self-reliance, solitude, a universal being or over-soul and the reproof of nonserious travel and to a lesser extent, haste.  For this deprives one of the natural evolution of relationships and intellection, amongst others.

“Bashfulness and apathy are a tough husk, in which a delicate organisation is prevented from premature ripening.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Friendship, 1841

To wit: seek not friendships – or any association – impetuously, for one cannot commune with souls who are not yet seasoned; and nature assures this by rebuking impatience.

“If you believe in the soul, do not clutch at sensual sweetness before it is ripe on the slow tree of cause and effect. It is vinegar to the eyes to deal with men of loose and imperfect perception.”


“If the hive is disturbed by rash and stupid hands, instead of honey, it will yield us bees.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Prudence, 1841

The knowledge of the world comprises three degrees of facility; the first class esteems the symbol: health or wealth, and these possess common sense. The second are poets and artists, who revere the beauty of the symbol, and these exhibit taste. The third class carry spiritual perception, and these – the wise men – treasure the beauty of the thing signified. To achieve the enlightenment of the third class; necessitates time and patience.

And in a culmination of pure serendipity: an anecdote on bees and haste: I recall: immediately after becoming worthy of my Black Belt; the instruction of my first class, when a bee sailed into the room. The Teacher – that would be me – hastened from the room screaming, “a bee; a bee; a bee!” In defence of my affrighted self, it was a really BIG bee.

“If’ll put a girdle round about the earth in forty minutes…” – Puck, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” II, i


…on today’s memorable quotation

And herein truth and wisdom: the loftier our thirst – that which we seek –, the more intangible; however, with perception of the existence of such unattainable souls; even the smallest expectation brings pure joy:

“But a sublime hope cheers the ever faithful heart, that elsewhere, in other regions of the universal power, souls are now acting, enduring and daring, which can love us and which we can love.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Friendship

Because, really…who doesn’t love this episode?

…on today’s memorable quotation

My life, my being, my accomplishments; those circumscribing inspirers and condemners, are comprehensively subordinate to my own will…

“The life of a man is a self-evolving circle, which from a ring imperceptibly small, rushes on all sides outward to new and larger circles, and that without end. The extent to which this generation of circles, wheel without wheel, will go, depends on the force or truth of the individual.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson,  Circles, 1841