Esteemed thinker: John Muir

muir I am enamored by the seasons in the same way a child discovers the tide; I embrace its mysterious changes like the youngster who scampers in and out, learning that the water goes to- and- fro without ever taking time to rest. For me each new blossom, each tree that sheds its leaves, each bulb that springs up with a flower more lovely than the next is complete wonderment. And so, I enjoy spying upon Mother Nature’s children as if they were my own rather than being a surrogate; taking moments to photograph her family. (I dare share with you a roadside field that decided to flaunt its summer beauty.)

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Today’s blog reflects upon the words of the esteemed thinker: John Muir (1838-1914), one of the earliest preservationist in the United States. He was a naturalist, writer, conservationist, and founder of the Sierra Club. John Muir is noted as the Father of the National Park Service, convincing the U.S. government to protect Yosemite, Sequoia, Grand Canyon and Mt. Rainier as national parks through his writing. John Muir’s words came from his lifetime work as a wilderness explorer, and his unyielding desire to maintain a natural environment that would not be exploited; still a rallying cry for all who wish to preserve our world.

So, I take you out of your hectic world into a day with John Muir and his observation of trees; feast upon this vivid excerpt from Steep Trails.

“No lover of trees will ever forget his first meeting with the sugar pine. In most coniferous trees there is a sameness of form and expression which at length becomes wearisome to most people who travel far in the woods. But the sugar pines are as free from conventional forms as any of the oaks. No two are so much alike as to hide their individuality from any observer. Every tree is appreciated as a study in itself and proclaims in no uncertain terms the surpassing grandeur of the species. The branches, mostly near the summit, are sometimes nearly forty feet long, feathered richly all around with short, leafy branchlets, and tasseled with cones a foot and a half long. And when these superb arms are outspread, radiating in every direction, an immense crownlike mass is formed which, poised on the noble shaft and filled with sunshine, is one of the grandest forest objects conceivable. But though so wild and unconventional when full-grown, the sugar pine is a remarkably regular tree in youth, a strict follower of coniferous fashions, slim, erect, tapering, symmetrical, every branch in place. At the age of fifty or sixty years this shy, fashionable form begins to give way. Special branches are thrust out away from the general outlines of the trees and bent down with cones. Henceforth it becomes more and more original and independent in style, pushes boldly aloft into the winds and sunshine, growing ever more stately and beautiful, a joy and inspiration to every beholder…”

Esteemed thinker: Percy Bysshe Shelley on poetry

When we read poetry we are often enlightened in ways that consume our very spirit. When we write poetry we reveal our spirit. For some, poetry is found in books, some find it in their dreams, and then others solicit it from every nook and cranny.

My poem As the Shore Unfolds found its way to you on a postcard… but since I haven’t all your addresses, it was easier to post it here on my blog.

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Today’s blog continues my personally joyful expedition about Poetry with thoughts from the esteemed Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822). English poet of the Romantic period in literature, he was married to Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, and son-in-law to philosopher William Goodwin. Today’s thoughts are snipped from his work, A Defence of Poetry and Other Essays. Here is the great Shelley in his own words…

Percy Shelley “… Poetry is ever accompanied with pleasure: all spirits on which it falls open themselves to receive the wisdom which is mingled with its delight. In the infancy of the world, neither poets themselves
nor their auditors are fully aware of the excellence of poetry: for it acts in a divine and unapprehended manner, beyond and above consciousness; and it is reserved for future generations to contemplate
and measure the mighty cause and effect in all the strength and splendour of their union. Even in modern times, no living poet ever arrived at the fullness of his fame; the jury which sits in judgement upon a poet, belonging as he does to all time, must be composed of his peers: it must be impanelled by Time from the selectest of the wise of many generations. A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds; his auditors are as men entranced by the melody of an unseen musician, who feel that they are moved and softened, yet know not whence or why…”

Esteemed thinker-Arthur Schopenhauer and Beauty

beauty Every day we are bombarded by advertisements, commercials, and conversations that tell us what is beautiful. Initially, we conduct our own analysis however; many of our beliefs are often tailored and altered by the opinions and so- called expert advice of others. As a result, many find themselves questioning and doubting their own interpretation and definition of “beauty”.

Today’s blog will focus our attention towards Arthur Schopenhauer and his thoughts extracted from his Third Book: The World as Idea, as he presents us with his notion of Beauty. So, you may ask…”just who is this guy?” Well, to be brief… Authur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) was a 19th century philosopher who grew up in Germany. Among many of his ideas, he advocated ways to overcome painful human conditions through artistic, moral, and ascetic forms of awareness. He questioned and contemplated, “What is the function of art, of the value of the arts for human life…” Because of his independent thinking and contributions, he has been credited with presenting his ideas in a more profound way than his predecessors, resulting in having a great impact on the poets, composers, and the “common man (and woman)” of his time.

Now, let us now take pause to read some of his words about “beauty”.

Authur Schopoeneur “… When we say that a thing is beautiful, we thereby assert that it is an object of our aesthetic contemplation, and this has a double meaning; on one hand, it means that the sight of the thing makes us objective, that is to say, that in contemplating it we are no longer conscious of ourselves as individuals, but as pure will-less subjects of knowledge; and on the other hand, it means that we recognize in the object, not the particular thing, but an Idea … Therefore it is that man is more beautiful than all of other objects, and the revelation of his nature is the highest aim of art. Human form and expression are the most important objects of plastic art, and human action the most important object of poetry. … “