Friday, November 26, 2010


Happy Day After Thanksgiving, dear folks. I personally ended up partaking of not one but two feasts--thank you Julia and Aaron; thank you Maudie!--culminating in a plate of pumpkin cheesecake, butterscotch pie, apple bread pudding and a mountain of whipped cream, then came home, collapsed on the sofa, and watched part of The Days of Wine and Roses.

Still, I'm up with the dawn, as usual, me and the birds, pondering...

"We take a train to go to Tarascon or Rouen and we take death to go to a star. What is certainly true about this argument is that as long as we're alive we can't visit a star any more than when we are dead we can take a train. Anyway, I don't see why cholera, the stone, phthisis and cancer should not be heavenly modes of locomotion like ships, buses and trains here below, while if we die peacefully of old age we make the journey on foot."
--Vincent van Gogh, letter to his brother Theo

"[A] person who is 'ravished' has lost the calm security of self-possession, if only for a moment; he is, as we say, 'moved' by something else; he is passive. Plato repeatedly finds new ways to describe this state, in which one is deprived of self-possession and shaken out of one’s adjustment to the world. He speaks of wanting to fly up and being unable to; of being beside oneself and not knowing what is wrong; of ferment, unrest, helplessness…Lovers—we may read this in Aristophanes’ speech in the Symposium—do not know what they really want of one another; in fact it is evident that their two souls crave something else (something other than the pleasure of lovers’ intercourse); but the world cannot express what this other thing is, 'of which she has only a dark and doubtful presentiment.'” 
--Josef Pieper, Enthusiasm and Divine Madness

"One of my greatest experiences! Lord God, that beauty! They circled over me for a long time. Disappeared into the solar haze like a gleaming, silver ribbon…That this should have happened to me, who have been for so long an outsider"...
--from the diary of composer Jean Sibelius, after seeing sixteen swans flying in formation over Ainola, his Finnish home


  1. Apple bread pudding? Awesomeness!

    My movie last night was the very compelling Night of the Iguana (1964, dir. John Huston, based on the play by Tennessee Williams), starring Richard Burton, Deborah Kerr, Ava Gardner, Grayson Hall, and Sue Lyon.

  2. Oh I have got to watch that again...Richard Burton's a drunk and a fallen priest, if I remember correctly...with a busload of tourists in Mexico...

  3. Last night, after dinner at a friend's house, with 8-9 kids and 2 priests (who between the two of them represent Irish, Italian, Polish and Ukrainian blood-lines, and the Roman and Ukrainian Rites) my wife and I watched the second DVD of Into Great Silence. We'd watched the first DVD the night before (for the second time) but the DVD player w/the TV wasn't working.

    We kept marveling what a wonderful life the monk's lead. I know first-hand, having spent a month with them In VT around 1992 discerning a vocation.

    I like the idea of "the stone" being a "heavenly mode of transportation." People thought van Gogh was nuts, but I think he was just more in touch with the other world than most of us are.

    Like many artists.

    I love that quote of Beethoven in your book: (it brought tears to my eyes)

    "I shall hear in heaven."

  4. Oh yeah, Into Great Silence so made me want to move to the Grand Chartreuse...that part at the end where the camera moved from monk to monk and just stayed for 30 seconds or so on their's almost unbearable to look into a person's face or eyes for any length of time, or even more painful, to let someone look at ours...we are so vulnerable, and so afraid to know and be known, and yet also so capable of being stunned by beauty...that's probably really why we're afraid to look!...

  5. Heather! Happy Thanksgiving. Loved your post.The Josef Pieper quote is great. In Italiano they describe being angry as "fuori di se." Literally "outside of self." I guess it's like our "beside myself."
    Personally, I'm all about getting a train to Tarascon or Rouen before hitting the stars. I miss you. And wish I were sitting with you now over some butterscotch pie. xo patrick

  6. Pat! I thought of you yesterday but ended up being on the damn horn half the day and then it was time to eat...then eat again..."fuori di se" is going to become my new watchword(s)...I didn't understand half of that Josef Pieper book but the parts I did get I loved, and copied out, as the Lord knows I am ALL for labelling what goes on in any given day/hour/minute of life "divine madness" instead of "Time to call 911 and be carted off to Bellevue"...
    when are coming to Costa Mesa?...
    happy Thanksgiving and much love, Heath


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