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Tuesday
Aug262014

Snowy Cabin

"Snowy Cabin"
Oil on Canvas - Year Unknown
Fehmena Assim 

"Better than all, I had known a corner [of a nation] as a householder, which is the only way of getting at a country. Tourists may carry away impressions, but it is the seasonal detail of small things and doings (such as putting up fly-screens and stove-pipes, buying yeast-cakes and being lectured by your neighbors) that bite in the lines of mental pictures."

--Rudyard Kipling, Something of Myself

Sunday
Aug172014

Dull Day, Shooter Returning with Dogs

"Dull Day, Shooter Returning with Dogs"
Oil on Canvas - c. 1840-1870
Richard Ansdell 

 . . . As Curdie grew, he grew at this time faster in body than in mind—with the usual consequence, that he was getting rather stupid—one of the chief signs of which was that he believed less and less in things he had never seen. At the same time I do not think he was ever so stupid as to imagine that this was a sign of superior faculty and strength of mind. Still, he was becoming more and more a miner, and less and less a man of the upper world where the wind blew. On his way to and from the mine he took less and less notice of bees and butterflies, moths and dragonflies, the flowers and the brooks and the clouds. He was gradually changing into a commonplace man.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. One of the latter sort comes at length to know at once whether a thing is true the moment it comes before him; one of the former class grows more and more afraid of being taken in, so afraid of it that he takes himself in altogether, and comes at length to believe in nothing but his dinner: to be sure of a thing with him is to have it between his teeth.


-George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie

Wednesday
Jul302014

A Philosopher

"A Philosopher"
Oil on Canvas - c. 1640-1655
Salomon Koninck  

      Beware of shifty-eyed people. It is not only nervousness, it is also a kind of wickedness. Such people come to no good. I have three of them now in my mind as I write.

      One is a Professor. And, by the way, would you like to know why universities suffer from this curse of nervous disease? Why the great personages stammer or have St Vitus' dance, or jabber at the lips, or hop in their walk, or have their heads screwed round, or tremble in the fingers, or go through life with great goggles like a motor car? Eh? I will tell you. It is the punishment of their intellectual pride, than which no sin is more offensive to the angels.

       What! here are we with the jolly world of God all round us, able to sing, to draw, to paint, to hammer and build, to sail, to ride horses, to run, to leap; having for our splendid inheritance love in youth and memory in old age, and we are to take one miserable little faculty, our one-legged, knock-kneed, gimcrack, purblind, rough-skinned, underfed, and perpetually irritated and grumpy intellect, or analytical curiosity rather (a diseased appetite), and let it swell till it eats up every other function? Away with such foolery.

--Hilaire Belloc, The Path to Rome

Friday
Jul252014

Prayer

"Prayer"
Oil on Canvas - 1878
William Powell Frith 

The humble soul composed of love and fear
Begins at home, and lays the burden there,
When doctrines disagree.
He says, in things which use hath justly got,
'I am a scandal to the Church,' and not
'The Church is so to me.'

--George Herbert

Tuesday
Jul222014

Still Life with a Jug, Cheese, Onions, Fish and a Knife

"Still Life with a Jug, Cheese, Onions, Fish and a Knife"
Oil on Canvas - 1854
 François Bonvin

My forthcoming work in five volumes, "The Neglect of Cheese in European Literature" is a work of such unprecedented and laborious detail that it is doubtful if I shall live to finish it. Some overflowings from such a fountain of information may therefore be permitted to springle these pages. I cannot yet wholly explain the neglect to which I refer. Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. Virgil, if I remember right, refers to it several times, but with too much Roman restraint. He does not let himself go on cheese. The only other poet I can think of just now who seems to have had some sensibility on the point was the nameless author of the nursery rhyme which says: "If all the trees were bread and cheese"—which is, indeed a rich and gigantic vision of the higher gluttony. If all the trees were bread and cheese there would be considerable deforestation in any part of England where I was living. Wild and wide woodlands would reel and fade before me as rapidly as they ran after Orpheus.

--G.K. Chesterton, Alarms and Discursions, "Cheese"