Saturday, March 7, 2015


Habit is the poor cousin of tradition and ritual.  Its career has forever been undistinguished.  At its worst habit is an addiction; at its best it is a custom. Normally it is a routine. Habit carries with it the suggestion of lack of self-analysis and maybe even obsession.  It is seldom associated with dynamism or creativity; it tends to be characterized by a fixed way of thinking, one which generally abhors novelty or change.  There are however good habits, such as daily exercise or eating properly. Those habits obscure the unconscious element of repetitive behaviour and are redeemed as active choices. Normally habitual behaviour is not associated with great minds unless of course the habit is Bohemian like sleeping late, chain smoking, excessive drinking, lustfulness and general failure to observe deadlines and commitments, the offbeat social habits of an artist's drafty-garret existence.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The movies that we know

Lately I have been reflecting upon my past.  What intrigues me is the intensity which derives from inconsequential events of my life.  It has required patience for these trifling details to percolate.  Last evening as I stumbled upon a rerun of an old movie, I began to assemble a collection of evocative memories which spring from three movies all from the same period in my life.

Fugit Irreparabile Tempus

No one disputes the cautionary admonition "tempus fugit" - "time flies".  It is frequently conjoined with "carpe diem" - "seize the day".  The message in both cases seems painfully clear - Enjoy it while you can!  However, the original Latin phrase is borrowed from the 4-book poems Georgica  written by the Roman poet Virgil around 29 BC: "sed fugit interea fugit irreparabile tempus" - “but it flees meanwhile: irretrievable time flees”.  This expresses concern that one's limited time is being consumed by something which may have little intrinsic substance or importance.  In the context of Virgil's agricultural poems dealing with ploughs, the hostile world of nature, husbandry and the life and habits of bees, the focus of chief importance was the contribution of labor to the success or failure of mankind’s endeavours. Agriculture was a model for human society. Bees in particular were thought to resemble man in that they labor, are devoted to authority and dedicate their lives to the good of the community.

Taking in the rays

To trumpet a history of sun bathing is by current standards as seductive as proclaiming a lifetime of cigarette smoking.  It's plainly no longer fashionable. But after lying in the sun this afternoon by the pool for about two hours I am reminded of what it is about sun bathing that so captivates me.  My earliest recollection of my trance with the warmth and effect of the sun is oddly a wintertime memory.  My longtime friend Max and I used to walk about the campus when we were at boarding school together.  If it were a sunny day I would make a point of throwing myself upon the snow with my arms and legs splayed (in the fashion of making a snow angel) and lie there with the sun beating upon me, jokingly urging, "Burn, Baby! Burn!"  Of course it was pointless to expect that I'd get anything approaching a tan from such an interlude.  However in the warmer days of late Spring I would take a break from my studies by going to the back fields of the campus where I would sprawl upon a towel in the warm sun.  That was serious business and though I may live to regret it, at the time it did a lot to advance the brownish colour of my skin.

Edit Function

Quite by accident during our winter stay on Hilton Head Island, SC I have uncovered the delight of the iPhoto edit function on my MacBook Pro computer.  Surrounded as we are here by the Atlantic Ocean, expansive beach, endless horizon, dome-like sky, palm trees, towering sea pines, live oak trees and languorous hanging moss it is no surprise that every amateur photographer succumbs to the beauty of this place and feels compelled to record it.  Although I am equipped only with my iPhone camera which I dutifully carry with me whenever we bicycle about the Island I have remarkably been able - thanks to the aforementioned edit function - to translate those bumbling snaps into something astonishingly pretty. Whenever I share my so-called artistic endeavours with friends I hasten to add that although the end product is a certifiable deceit (the sky is never that blue nor the edges that crisp nor the contrast that brilliant) the photographs nonetheless represent the way I see it (which I grant is bordering on poetic license). Any anxiety I might have harboured was however very much dispelled after having shared my work with a professional artist friend who commented glowingly upon my efforts.  Naturally I was only too willing to accede to her approbation!

Room with a view

Not to diminish the insight of E. M. Forster I am reluctant to philosophizes away the consequence of a room with a view unless it were to align with George Emerson's observation,"My father says the only perfect view is the sky over our heads".  My North American seaside experience is for the most part confined to the Atlantic Ocean and as such I am accustomed to facing east when on holiday.  Aside from the unmistakeable splendour of the sunrise there is the seductive sound of the crashing Ocean, a recurring percussion which comes far closer to washing away the sins of my soul than any other invention.

Breakfast al fresco

While resting our bones at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort we have the advantage of taking our breakfast in the hotel at the appropriately named Sunrise CafĂ© on a third-floor terrace overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Seasoned al fresco diners such as we know enough to wear sunglasses to endure the experience en plein air without annoyance; the dazzling morning sunshine is otherwise blinding.  The seating is a series of three rows of spaciously situated tables and chairs extending from a line parallel to the outer balcony to the wall of the interior restaurant. The furnishings are attractive, durable and comfortable and certainly what I imagine would be quite suitable even on a windy day. Our immediate view is upon a highly manicured green of the golf course, then upon the white sand dunes, beach and vast open Ocean.


At this point in time we have between the two of us, at home and at the office (and not counting what devices I imagine are secreted within the framework of our automobile) no fewer than nine computers. Nine. That’s a lot! Come to think of it I’ve never before owned nine of anything at one time, not nine lawnmowers or nine typewriters or even nine toothbrushes. I suppose one can excuse the proliferation by observing that each of the computers is different and fulfills a specialized task - desktops, laptops, tablets and Smart Phone. The frightful thing is that I don’t think I could live without any one of them! Sounds bewildering I know but it’s true.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Lost in Space

Fortunately I have never allowed myself to become attached to any particular medium in which to record my resounding nothings.  Whether the platform was my plastic-covered diary, ledger books, type-written pages, computer logs, internet blog or web site, they have in succession all come and gone.  Today for example I lost connection to my web site ("Error establishing a database connection").  Initially it perturbed me to see the error message but I quickly rebounded even though only as recently as yesterday I completed the cut-'n-paste to that site of everything of value I have written in the past four years.  What is important for me is that I have at least one vehicle to use for my on-going expositions; it really doesn't matter whether they're recorded for historical purposes.  Admittedly I was prompted to collate my articles by the thought of one day publishing them but even my quick investigation of that process has turned me off.  It has always been only about the process of writing.  There is naturally some attraction to having the production appear on a blog because the internet lends such clinical precision to the effort.