It’s been a long day

…Days too small to fill their slots,
days too large for the day to hold them.
And days, no matter what their size,
that leaked into the next.
A leaky day is a dangerous thing…

Richard Siken, from The Field of Rooms and Halls


Notes:

 

A Journey Around My Room

In Lin Yutang’s view, you must possess the capacity to open yourself to seeing what’s in front of and around you all the time, not just when you are on a special trip. He gives us a sizable translation from a Chinese philosopher who expands on this, explaining that seeing the beauty and grace in the most majestic mountains means nothing if you can’t see beauty and grace in “a little patch of water, a village, a bridge, a tree, a hedge, or a dog….”

A travel book that takes this philosophy as far as it can go and then further is that remarkable little book: A Journey Around My Room. This is book was written in 1790 by a young French officer named Xavier de Maistre. […]

With nothing else to do, he wrote a guidebook to his room, visiting over the course of those weeks various bits of furniture, paintings, his bookshelf, letters he’d kept, and his own memory of a charming and slightly rakish life … De Maistre makes a case for traveling around his room as the truest kind of travel … “The pleasure you find in traveling around your room is safe from the restless jealousy of men; it is independent of the fickleness of fortune. After all, is there any person so unhappy, so abandoned, that he doesn’t have a little den into which he can withdraw and hide away from everyone? Nothing more elaborate is needed for the journey.”

Like all good travel writers, de Maistre begins his book by giving us the lay of the land and the route he intends to take:

My room is situated on the forty-fifth degree of latitude, according to the measurement of Father Beccaria; it stretches from east to west; it forms a long rectangle, thirty-six paces in circumference, if you hug the wall. My journey will, however, measure much more than this, as I will be crossing it frequently lengthwise, or else diagonally, without any rule or method. I will even follow a zigzag path, and I will trace out every possible geometrical trajectory if need be. I don’t like people who have their itineraries and ideas so clearly sorted out that they say, “Today I’ll make three visits, I’ll write four letters, and I’ll finish that book I started.” My soul is so open to every kind of idea, taste and sentiment; it so avidly receives everything that presents itself!…And why would it turn down the pleasures that are scattered along life’s difficult path? …

But when he wants to be awakened to what is going on in the world far from his window, and learn more about the human condition, there is another destination in his room that he can visit—his bookshelf, which is filled mostly with novels and a few books of poetry. These take him out of his room while allowing him to stay in it, and expand his experiences a thousandfold. He writes, “As if my own troubles weren’t enough, I also voluntarily share those of a thousand imaginary characters, and I feel them as vividly as my own.” …

After reading A Journey Around My Room, I vowed that I would take a trip to my room every few months, and these have been some of the happiest days I’ve spent. It’s an incredible luxury to be home and not sick, to wake up with no agenda other than to wander around the apartment all day. I can lie on the sofa and look at the light as it plays across a glass table. Or see the way it catches on a cracked ceramic vase. I can play with the shells I’ve brought back from the beach. I can admire our hearty little African violet. And I can visit my books, flipping through this one and then that to light on a passage.

This only works if I remain totally unplugged. The rules for such a day are simple—no electronics at all (except for music).

~ Will Schwalbe, from “A Journey Around My Room. Traveling.” In Books for a Living.


Notes:

But I’m starting to believe that this is all madness and that we’re already in way over our heads

IMAGINE IF there were a law decreeing that every citizen had to carry a tracking device and check it five times an hour. This device was to be kept at hand at all times. The law also decreed that you needed to place this device on your bedside table at night, so that it was never more than two feet away from your body, and if you happened to wake up in the middle of the night, then you needed to check it. You had to check it during mealtimes, at sporting events, while watching television. You even needed to sneak a quick peek at it during plays and weddings and funerals. For those unwilling to check their devices at the plays, weddings, and funerals, exceptions would be made—so long as you kept your device on right up until the moment the play, wedding, or funeral was beginning and then turned it on again the second the event was over, checking it as you walked down the aisle toward the exit. Imagine, too, that whenever you went to a concert you weren’t allowed to view the actual concert but instead had to view it through your device, as though every concert were a solar eclipse and you would go blind if you stared at the thing itself. Only if you were holding your device in front of your face and viewing the event on its small screen would you be allowed to experience heightened moments of artistry and life. Such a law would be deemed an insane Orwellian intrusion into our daily freedom, and people would rebel—especially when the law went even further. Imagine that the law decreed that it wasn’t enough to check your machines; you needed to update the world on your activities on not one but several services, posting text, pictures, and links to let everyone know everywhere you went, and everything you ate, and everyone you saw. And when you weren’t posting, the device would be tracking your movements and recording on distant servers where you were, whom you called, and what information you searched for. Of course, these laws aren’t necessary. We do this to ourselves. So we now have to come up with elaborate ways to stop ourselves from engaging in this behavior. There are the restaurant dinners during which everyone puts their devices into the middle of the table, and the first person to reach for hers or his gets stuck with the bill for the whole crowd. There are programs you can buy that allow you to set a timer that keeps you from checking email or using apps or searching the Web for a certain period of time. One of these, in a truly Orwellian turn of phrase, is called Freedom. […]

We also check them too much because we are addicted to them…

We check them because we feel the need…

We check them because we don’t want to miss out. On anything…

I find my little device incredibly seductive…

But I’m starting to believe that this is all madness and that we’re already in way over our heads…

After each one of those tiny dopamine bursts comes a tiny dopamine hangover, a little bit of melancholy as the brain realizes that the thing we crave—to connect—hasn’t really happened at all. It’s like the feeling you get when you anticipate ordering something you love at a restaurant, and do so, and then are told that they just served the last one, and you will need to order something else. A little lift—they have lemon meringue pie—followed by a little fall: not for you. Our technology gives us the simulacrum of a connection but not the real thing.

George Orwell correctly predicted much about our world today.

~ Will Schwalbe, from “1984. Disconnecting.” in Books for a Living


Notes:

It’s been a long day


To whom does my brain belong?
With what can I or you resist?
Within me disorder
While my brain seeks its order, at almost any price …

~ Göran Sonnevi, from Mozart’s Third Brain


Notes:

Sunday Morning

L7matrix

It’s enough just to listen to music, to keep asking questions for which there are no answers, to remember paintings seen in a museum, to note the earth’s quiet at dusk, birds’ voices in May, to shiver at the thought that they’re alive, that the gleam of each new dawn is an endless promise.

~ Adam Zagajewski, Slight Exaggeration: An Essay (April 4, 2017)


Notes:

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?

Dear David:

Last week I was very fortunate to be at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine. The moment I saw this sculpture, I knew it needed to be sent to you, the best-known anywhere collector of camels.  It is a very, very tall camel by a favorite Maine artist, Blackie Langlais. His work is all over Maine (and the rest of the world), made mostly of found materials and wood. This link takes you to his bio and a map showing the locations of many of his publicly accessible sculptures. The second link is to the Farnsworth Museum.”

Peace,

Nan Heldenbrand Morrissette (August 15, 2017)


Thank you Nan!


Notes: Background on Caleb/Wednesday/Hump Day Posts and Geico’s original commercial: Let’s Hit it Again

I Needed Color: Free from the future. Free from the past. Free from regret. Free from worry.

What do you do when life chooses you? You can choose not to do it. You can choose to try to do something safer. Your vocation chooses you. When I really started painting a lot, I had become so obsessed, there was nowhere to move. In my home, paintings were everywhere. There were becoming part of the furniture. I was eating on them. I found myself looking around at one point, a really bleak winter in New York. It was just so depressing and I think I needed color. […]

You can tell what I love by the color of the paintings. You can tell my inner life by the darkness in some of them. You can tell by what I want by the brightness in some of them. […]

I think what makes someone an artist is they make models of their inner life. They make something physically come into being that is inspired by their emotions or their needs…

I like the independence of it. Love the freedom of it. No one else tells you what you can and can’t do…and, there’s an immediacy to it. Art has to be service, like you are servicing your subconscious…

When I was a kid I spent half my time in the living room performing for people. I spent the other half of my time in my bedroom by myself writing poetry and sketching. I was not the type of kid that you could say as a punishment: “good to your room” – because my room was Heaven to me. My isolation was welcome…

I don’t know what painting teaches me. I know it just frees me. Free from the future. Free from the past. Free from regret. Free from worry…

~ Jim Carrey, excerpts from  I Needed Color

Note to Self: Who knew that the star of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994), Dumb and Dumber (1994), The Mask (1994) – had this talent.


Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

Edward Hopper. Third Grade Report Card.

This image was drawn on the back of Edward Hopper’s third grade report card dated October 23, 1891, when Hopper was nine years old. Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Little Boy Looking at the Sea, n.d., ink on paper, 4.5 x 3.5 in.


Notes:

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