Musings in Winter: Alain de Botton
“What we call a home is merely any place that succeeds in making more consistently available to us the important truths which the wider world ignores, or which our distracted and irresolute selves have trouble holding onto.”
Below (all photographic prints) – “Hour Glass” (from “Pictures of Soil” series); “White Iris – After Edward Weston”; “Haystack – After Monet”
Remembering a Spiritual Leader on the Date of His Birth: Born 12 January 1863 – Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu monk and philosopher who was instrumental in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world.
Some quotes from the work of Swami Vivekananda:
“You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you,
none can make you spiritual.
There is no other teacher but your own soul.”
“In a day, when you don’t come across any problems – you can be sure that you are travelling in a wrong path”
“They alone live, who live for others.”
“All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. Love is therefore the only law of life. He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying. Therefore love for love’s sake, because it is the only law of life, just as you breathe to live.”
“Comfort is no test of truth. Truth is often far from being comfortable.”
“Learn Everything that is Good from Others, but bring it in, and in your own way absorb it; do not become others.”
“We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. If what we are now has been the result of our own past actions, it certainly follows that whatever we wish to be in the future can be produced by our present actions; so we have to know how to act.”
“Was there ever a more horrible blasphemy than the statement that all the knowledge of God is confined to this or that book? How dare men call God infinite, and yet try to compress Him within the covers of a little book!”
“The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves.”
Art for Winter – Part II of V: Juan Munoz (Spanish, 1953-2001)
Below – “Busquedia” (bronze); “Double Ballerina” (bronze, ceramic, and wood); “Conversation Piece” (fiberglass, polyester resin, and sand)
Remembering an Iconic Vocalist on the Date of His Birth: Born 12 January 1905 – Woodward Maurice “Tex” Ritter, an American country music singer and actor. Ritter achieved musical immortality when he sang the ballad of “High Noon” (one of the masterpieces of American cinema) – “Do Not Forsake Me O My Darlin” – which won the 1952 Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Art for Winter – Part III of V: Don Munz (American, contemporary)
Below – “Fenestrada”; “Enfilade, Refractors and Steel Mosaic” (suite of 3); “Enfilade”
A Poem for Today
by Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voice behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life that you could save.
Art for Winter – Part IV of V: Wangechi Mutu (Kenyan, contemporary)
Below – “Mermaid”; “Little Brown Goddess”; “Howl”
Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 12 January 1949 – Haruki Murakami, a Japanese novelist, short story writer, and essayist.
Some quotes from the work of Haruki Murakami:
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
“Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.”
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
“Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form you’re expecting.”
“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.
And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.
And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
“Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Only assholes do that.”
“Anyone who falls in love is searching for the missing pieces of themselves. So anyone who’s in love gets sad when they think of their lover. It’s like stepping back inside a room you have fond memories of, one you haven’t seen in a long time.”
“It’s like Tolstoy said. Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness a story.”
“Silence, I discover, is something you can actually hear.”
“I dream. Sometimes I think that’s the only right thing to do.”
Below – “Flight”; “Two Roses VII”; “Narcissus”
Worth a Thousand Words: The Aurora Australis in the night sky over Antarctica.
In the words of one writer, “Elaine Murphy is a native of Dublin, Ireland. She grew up in a show business family, her father being one of Ireland’s most famous and respected television host, and her mother Eileen was a fashion model. Elaine studied fine art at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. Her design work has been celebrated and sold worldwide. In 2000 she began to focus on fine art, creating large format figurative and abstract paintings. The works have been described as loose and fluid, with emotional overtones conveyed by elegant lines. The combination of abstraction and bold figurative lines conspire to make her expressions on canvas truly unique.”
Below – “Red”; “Eclipse”; Blue Salsa”; “Riviera”; “Lovers in Moonlight”; “Into the Blue.”
Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 12 January 1876 – Jack London, an American novelist and journalist.
Some quotes from the work of Jack London:
“I ride over my beautiful ranch. Betwen my legs is a beautiful horse.
The air is wine. The grapes on a score of rolling hills are red with autumn flame.
Across Sonoma Mountain, wisps of sea fog are stealing.
The afternoon sun smolders in the drowsy sky.
I have everything to make me glad I am alive.”
“I’d rather sing one wild song and burst my heart with it, than live a thousand years watching my digestion and being afraid of the wet.”
“Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.”
“A vast silence reigned over the land. The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness. There was a hint in it of laughter, but of laughter more terrible than any sadness-a laughter that was mirthless as the smile of the Sphinx, a laughter cold as the frost and partaking of the grimness of infallibility. It was the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozen-hearted Northland Wild.”
“I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.”
“But especially he loved to run in the dim twilight of the summer midnights, listening to the subdued and sleepy murmurs of the forest, reading signs and sounds as a man may read a book, and seeking for the mysterious something that called — called, waking or sleeping, at all times, for him to come.”
Below – “Carnation,Lily, Lily, Rose”; “Dinner Table at Night”; “The Black Brook”; “Street in Venice”; “Portrait of Madame X”; “Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a Wood.”