Christopher Morley and portals

There are many thidoorwayngs that we do in our lives that may provoke one’s heart to beat a little faster. And though this activity may be as simple as turning the knob or pulling back on a handle, it is actually not the act, but rather the anticipation of what lies behind that stirs the thumping. Opening a door, a behavior that we do every day, is such an event that may cause your adrenaline to tingle and a lump in your throat to form.

From the very earliest time of your life to the present the door has made us grow limp at the knees. Take for example the first day of kindergarten, standing before the door that would suddenly escort you through a threshold that would forever leave you on one side and your mother on the other.

It was a door that stood between you and your first date, your prom, your visit to the doctor, the dentist, a driving test, and a job interview. A door, no matter what it may be made of…glass, paneled, steel, or wood, the door has the ability to cause us so much pain and so much happiness.
So the next time you come upon a door, I would venture to say, treat it kindly, for you may not know not what lies behind its portals.

Today’s blog returns the esteemed thinker: Christopher D. Morley, (1890-1957) American author, journalist, poet, and essayist. Born in Haverford, PA, Morley wrote for the New York Evening Post (1920-1923) and the Saturday Review of Literature (1924-1941), which he helped found. christopher morley 3

From his book, Mince Pie, I bring to you a snippet from “On Doors, ” a most profound look at a rather unassuming subject.

“…There are many kinds of doors. Revolving doors for hotels, shops and public buildings. These are typical of the brisk, bustling ways of modern life. Can you imagine John Milton or William Penn skipping through a revolving door? Then there are the curious little slatted doors that still swing outside denatured bar-rooms and extend only from shoulder to knee. There are trapdoors, sliding doors, double doors, stage doors, prison doors, glass doors. But the symbol and mystery of a door resides in its quality of concealment. A glass door is not a door at all, but a window. The meaning of a door is to hide what lies inside; to keep the heart in suspense.

Also, there are many ways of opening doors. There is the cheery push of elbow with which the waiter shoves open the kitchen door when he bears in your tray of supper. There is the suspicious and tentative withdrawal of a door before the unhappy book agent or peddler…
The opening and closing of doors is a part of the stern fluency of life. Life will not stay still and let us alone. We are continually opening doors with hope, closing them with despair. Life lasts not much longer than a pipe of tobacco, and destiny knocks us out like the ashes…”

First Image: 12th Century, French, limestone and oolitic

4th of July

flag

All around the neighborhoods, in the cities, on the farmlands, in the mountains, along the grassy plains, and even rocking on the oceans and seashores. Americans are celebrating Independence Day…the Fourth of July. The skies are doused with the smells from smoky barbecues and diamond-studded sparklers…while the night skies will be ablaze with fireworks’ shows that dazzle, awe, and surprise… dogs will bark, some will hide, while children coax them out from beneath the bed with pieces of soggy hot dog buns. How lucky and grateful are we in the United States to be able to celebrate this historic occasion, while I lament that still others round the globe are unable to express freedom such as ours.

Today’s blog, in honor of the 4th of July, brings to you the words of the esteemed thinker: Edwin Percy Whipple (b. Massachusetts 1819-1886). Who? Oh, maybe you will recognize him by ‘E.P. Whipple’…is that better? Oh, still no recollection…well let me give you a bit of background about him. Of his time, he was considered a “compelling” speaker, lecturer, intellect, and literary critic; offering him an opportunity as the literary editor for the Boston Daily Globe. He was not stranger to the literary world having been the trustee of the Boston Public Library, 1868-1870. During the height of the lyceum movement*, he delivered as many as one thousand public lectures from Bangor to St. Louis.EP Whipple

From his essay The True Glory of a Nation, we take a moment to pause and read the words of Mr. Whipple…and though he may not be the most celebrated writer today, his thoughts regarding the people who “are” a nation indeed parallels the glory of why we “can” honor Independence Day.

“The true glory of a nation is an intelligent, honest, industrious people. The civilization of a people depends on their individual character; and a constitution which is not the outgrowth of this character is not worth the parchment on which it is written. You look in vain in the past for a single instance where the people have preserved their liberties after their individual character was lost. It is not in the magnificence of its palaces, not in the beautiful creations of art lavished on its public edifices, not in costly libraries and galleries of pictures, not in the number or wealth of its cities, that we find a nation’s glory. …The true glory of a nation is the living temple of a loyal, industrious, upright people…”

* Lyceum movement in the United States, especially in the northeast, was the beginning of adult education; organizations sponsored lectures and debates often on current interes

Taking control

Like all readers, not all reading problems are alike. That means by defining which area(s) a reader needs “a boost in” can significantly improve reading understanding as well as self-esteem.

FirstAidCover_small

First Aid for Readers is a self-help guide for those who are having difficulty when they read. It can be followed at home, in school, in the library, during teacher instruction, or in any activity involving reading. It is a first aid kit for readers presented in an easy to follow format.

So, if you know a reader…share the link!

AmazonNookKindleGoogle Play

Albert Einstein and wonderment

moon There was a time, not too long ago, when there existed ‘wonderment’. It occurred in an ordinary day, during an ordinary hour, doing perhaps something considered ordinary. Hanging out the laundry on a clothes line, and suddenly a rainbow would appear. Watching a magic trick where a man in a black cape would retrieve a rabbit out of his top hat, or a telephone call from America to Europe; all these things created a smile, a moment of awe, an appreciation for what appears and feels like magic…

The age of wonderment was an era when extraordinary things were not taken for granted; all eyes were glued on the television when we landed a man on the moon, and all were amazed at the first heart transplant. To think our ability to become mystified has all but disappeared is a great loss indeed.

Wonderment to the 21st century person may be a feeling that has essentially become numb. So much goes by unnoticed, ignored, and not even a footnote in the news. And so, lament we should for those who may have lost a uniquely human quality, the ability to be wowed.

Einstein Today’s post brings you the namesake of this blog, the esteemed thinker: Albert Einstein (1879-1955). Little introduction needs to be made for he is clearly a wonderment. Born at Ulm, in Württemberg, Germany, Einstein is one of the most influential physicists of the 20th century. Acknowledged for having developed the special and general theories of relativity, in 1921, he won the Nobel Prize for physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect.

From his book titled The world as I see it (1949), I have prepared a small parcel for you to read. For within this small passage one will see that even a pragmatic mind like Einstein had time to appreciate the wonderment and mysteries of life.

“…The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle…”

Esteemed thinker: Paulo Freire

teacher and classThe world of business is thought to be ever so complex however it appears to revolve around two events, the passing of time and the passing of money. Both involve good planning and good luck; for without them both working hand-in-hand, one could stymie the other. For those readers that like examples, let us take the film industry. Production on a new movie does not occur without first deciding upon time involved in production and the finances to put the idea into action. However, how often do we hear that the making of the movie is “behind schedule” and “cost productions” are over budget.

Such an occurrence is not rare but rather common practice. The identical business scenario results ever- so- often in the construction industry. Plans are created however, for whatever reason, perhaps a building permit or poor weather, construction is placed “on hold’ and as the company sorts things out, one-thing-leads to another, costs increase, and extra time is needed for the project to be completed. One can delve into a multitude of examples yet the more we look the more we not that the business world appears not to really have a hold on keeping to a schedule, even when they plan so many planning meetings that one has to wonder how they have so much time to plan.

Yet, there is one set of workers that complete their job everyday on time, regardless of money or the lack of time….teachers. Go into any classroom and one will find a diversity of clients (students) under the management of one and regardless of the weather or the lack of materials, when the bell rings and their day begins, in spite of distractions, interruptions, or disgruntled kids, work goes on according to plans.

So, perhaps the next time a business cannot seem to get the job completed according to schedule, rather than pouring more money into it…why not call in the experts of time management… the teacher.

Paulo_Freire Today’s blog brings to you the esteemed thinker: Paulo Freire (b. Recife, Brazil 1921-1997) Brazilian philosopher and teacher who developed educational theories that helped transform the field of education to better literacy to the poor. His studies centered around the relationship between teaching and learning where he endorsed that the teacher should help students in developing freedom of thought that would enable them to use their knowledge to take constructive action. In 1962 the first experiments in Freire’s method of education saw extreme success when 300 farmworkers were taught to read and write in just 45 days.

Freire was a child during the Great Depression where his experiences from this time later framed his life’s work; making changes in the development of education and literacy. His book ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ is considered one of the foundational texts of critical pedagogy.

I now bring you a snippet from the great Paulo Freire’s work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Take time from your busy day and afterwards, if you could read this…thank a teacher.

“A careful analysis of the teacher-student relationship at any level, inside or outside the school, reveals its fundamentally narrative character. This relationship involves a narrating Subject (the teacher) and patient listening objects (the students). The contents, whether values or empirical dimensions of reality, tend in the process of being narrated to become lifeless and petrified. Education is suffering from narration sickness…Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the “banking’ concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits. They do, it is true, have the opportunity to become collectors or cataloguers of the things they store. But in the last analysis, it is the people themselves who are filed away through the lack of creativity, transformation, and knowledge in this (at best) misguided system. For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other…”

First image early 1890s.

Pablo Picasso and permenance

television setThe rate in which the world around us changes accelerates with time. And as we become increasing more automated these changes reflect our surroundings … a system in flux. A sense of permanence no longer dominates the landscape and the urgency for acquiring new things governs our desires.

Man and womankind have always gravitated to acquire things that are branded “the latest model”, however products that were once designed to last a lifetime are no longer are in vogue. Less and less are things repaired but instead designed to be replaced.

In the twentieth century when a television ceased to function the owner would call the “TV repair man”, a fellow who would come by your home with a set of tools as particular as a surgeon’s. In comparison to today, rarely does one own a television long enough for it to malfunction; for like fashions that change from season to season, there is always a newer and better model to buy. Right when you have saved up enough money to purchase what is deemed the best, the latest and updated model makes its entrance flaunting its upgrades.

So … the next time you pass by a store try to refrain from feeling too out-dated for the only thing permanent is the desire for change.

Pablo_Picasso,_1908-1909,.Today’s blog brings back the esteemed thinker: Pablo Picasso (1881-1975) the renowned artist who was always to on the precipice of modern thinking. He was a painter who brought innovation to the art world, and no matter how old his work may be it is never out of vogue.

Between 1907 and 1914 Picasso and artist friend, George Braque created Cubism; a style of visual arts that become one of the most influential of the 20th century. The subject of the painting was not visible in the discernible sense; in this style of painting and figures were often overlapping planes and facets.

For those who wish to resurrect their artistic senses, feast your eyes on a most famous work of art by Mr. Picasso titled Oil Mill (1909). And remember, if you are able to afford one of his pieces of art rest assure, although it may be over 100 years old, you will be the envy of your neighbors.

Picasso_Oil Mill_1909_ms

First image: 1939, FCC Commissioners inspect latest in television. Washington, D.C.

Esteemed thinker: Alfred Stieglitz

Alfred Stieglitz We humans believe that we are a sophisticated species having the ability to control so many aspects of our lives. We can decide where we live, when we eat, and how we spend days.

However, one small finicky component that we often do not seem to have as much control over is our mood. The disposition of our day can be easily altered and what began as a glorious morning may be modified, turning a seemingly pleasant afternoon into a dreary day. And the culprit for our gloom may be something that we, like it or not, have no control over… none other than Mother Nature.

Mother Nature has the ability to malign our attitude as quickly as she can turn the blue sky grey. How often do we find ourselves in a sour mood when it rains or complain when it is too hot? Her seasonal whims can make entire nations grumpy, putting scowls upon the faces of folks who only a few weeks before were delighting outside, now shielding themselves from the harsh and cold winter winds.

So as much as we would like to believe we are in control …take heed, there is a force greater than our own that “shall we say” owns our temperaments…it is our dear Mother…nature!

Today’s blog finds a path to the esteemed thinker: Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946). Acclaimed photographer and art promoter, he was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, but received his formal education in engineering in Germany. Upon his return to the New York City in 1890, he set his sights on establishing photography as a “legitimate” form of art. Early in his career Stieglitz led a movement called Pictorialism, which promoted the photograph as art, with an emphasis that a photograph was created when the camera was used as a tool, like a paintbrush or palette knife was a tool. His own work grew with his artistic achievements where he began to use the natural elements, such a weather, to create effects and the camera’s focusing abilities to soften the frames.

In 1905, he founded the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession at 291 Fifth Avenue in New York, with Edward Steichen, which later became known simply as 291. Here he was able to elevate photography to the status of sculpture and painting. His own work

In 1917 he met the great American painter Georgia O’Keeffe, who becomes his lover and finally his wife in 1924. Over a period of 20 years, he had taken over 300 individual pictures of her, which demonstrates his unique and undeniable artistic ability to capture many facets of a single subject.

I now present to you a photogravure (1892) titled Winter – Fifth Avenue by the great photographer, Steiglitz. His ability to transport a mood is forever a testimony to his creative talents and artistic eye.

Winter - Fifth Avenue

Winter – Fifth Avenue

First image: Portrait of Alfred Stieglitz (1902) by Käsebier, Gertrude

Paul Cézanne and what is reality

cezanne Self-portrait-1887 What is reality and what is our perspective of it; a perplexing question, indeed. Some may think of this as one’s point of view, some may think of it as one’s opinion, some may think of it as one’s judgment. Where fact meet, converge, and often collide can make quite a difference in how we look at ourselves and others.

An ordinary mirror in our homes or the dressing room of a clothing store can take on the eye of an opposing point of view or similar reaction. The mirror may agree with us, whereupon we feel quite content with our dress, or it may show us a rather disagreeable figure of ourselves and we become disgusted with the reflection it has imparted.
Reality of a view or landscape, such as a mountain range, may be met with appreciation of nature’s vestibules or it may be overlooked as an impedance in our journey.

Such is the task of the artist, to present to us a reality that is wholly personal or universal. Sometimes we connect with a painting, feeling that its presence is greater than the canvas it is painted on, and other times our perspective of it falls short and we pass it by with a mere shrug of detachment .

And so, as we go on with our day, we are confronted with the decisions of what is reality. For some it remains unimportant, and for others it is a daily search for truth.

Today’s blog brings back the esteemed thinker: Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), French artist whose work demonstrates mastery of design, color, and the transition from 19th century art to the 20th century. Renown all over the world, Cézanne is considered the father of modern painting.

In his artistic endeavor, I present to you his oil on canvas titled, Mont Sainte–Victoire and the Viaduct of the Arc River Valley. Take a moment to look at his reality through your reality and see where they converge. It is worth a moment out of your hectic day.

Cezanne painting

First image: Cézanne Self-portrait, 1887

Christopher D. Morley and the haircut

hair cut There are some things that we do which is universal; for example, getting a haircut. For within my lifetime I have yet to meet a person who has not at one time or another returned home rather unhappy. And although we know in our heart of hearts that the locks that have been cut will grow back, we may still feel like a lamb having just been sheared.

So traumatic is a bad haircut that it is enough to send a young person coming up with any excuse to stay home from school. For who doesn’t remember the emotional pain and embarrassment which was executed by a rather unkind classmate.

A poor haircut can make you believe as though you have the largest ears or the longest neck. It can make you feel as though you are ten years old again, or have been transformed back to the 1980s. And although your hairdresser or barber will look at you like they have just painted the Mona Lisa, no amount of lies will make you feel better when staring back at you in that over-sized mirror is you with a very miserable haircut!

So take note that the world may be a very big place but in spite of its vast landmass… you cannot hide from a getting at least once… a bad haircut!

christopher morley 3From his essay Sitting in the Barber’s Chair I bring back to you the esteemed thinker: Christopher Morley (1890-1957) American author, journalist, poet, and essayist. I believe that once again he will stir you away from your hectic day and enchant you with a small but worthy bit of humor.

“Once every ten weeks or so we get our hair cut… Of course, we believe in having our hair cut during office hours. That is the only device we know to make the hateful operation tolerable…
We knew a traveling man who never got his hair cut except when he was on the road, which permitted him to include the transaction in his expense account; but somehow it seems to us more ethical to steal time than to steal money…

We like to view this whole matter in a philosophical and ultra-pragmatic way. Some observers have hazarded that our postponement of haircuts is due to mere lethargy and inertia, but that is not so. Every time we get our locks shorn our wife tells us that we have got them too short. She says that our head has a very homely and bourgeois bullet shape, a sort of pithecanthropoid contour, which is revealed by a close trim. After five weeks’ growth, however, we begin to look quite distinguished. The difficulty then is to ascertain just when the law of diminishing returns comes into play. When do we cease to look distinguished and begin to appear merely slovenly? Careful study has taught us that this begins to take place at the end of sixty-five days, in warm weather. Add five days or so for natural procrastination and devilment, and we have seventy days interval, which we have posited as the ideal orbit for our tonsorial ecstasies…”

First image: Sergeant from Fort Benning getting his son’s hair cut at a barber shop in Columbus, Georgia 1941

Esteemed thinker: Richard Jefferies

nest Leftovers are usually thought of as food that we will eat later’; sometimes because we want to and other times because we feel guilty. In restaurants there is even a word for the container we put our uneaten food at the end of our meal. This is the ‘doggy bag’ however, one has to wonder if the dog ever really sees this food. And then, does this mean that if we do not have a dog we are taking the food under false pretences?

The term leftover seems to be a human word, used for things we will relegate and save for later. However, is it possible that the idea of leftovers can also be in the animal kingdoms? For example; when taking a walk in winter and early spring, right when the tress are leafless or just before the buds open, up in the highest boughs one can observe nests; large and small nests that were constructed quite eloquently, for they are nestled securely for a bird family, and probably quite comfortable. But during these times of years, when we can see them quite clearly , they are empty…as we would say…no one is home. Which gets us thinking, are these habitats leftovers? If another bird came along would its vacancy give it “squatter’s rights”?

Richard Jeffries Today’s blog invites you to learn about a bit about the esteemed thinker: Richard Jefferies (1848-1847). English born author, Jeffries wrote during the latter portion of Victorian England, whose affinity for nature and rural life is evidenced in his work. Unknown today by most readers, his influence on other greats such as W.H. Hudson, Edward Thomas, Henry Willaimson, and John Fowles has been noted. In his early career he was a reporter for the North Wilts Herald, a Tory newspaper based in Swindon. In 1878 in the Pall Mall Gazette a series of 24 articles under the title “The Gamekeeper at Home”, based on memories. As time went on he took his pen to fiction, where he became established as the foremost natural history and country writer of his day.

And so in keeping with his reputation as a naturalist, I bring to you a bit of rural life among the “birds”. Here is a snippet from Richard Jeffries essay, Bird’s Nest. And next time you are out, look up and you may see those architectural wonders built by our two legged friends, the birds.

“…The nest requires a structure round it like a cage, so that the fledglings might be prevented from leaving it till better able to save themselves. Those who go to South Kensington to look at the bird’s-nest collection there should think of this if they hear any one discoursing on infallible instinct on the one hand, or evolution on the other. These two theories, the infallible instinct and that of evolution, practically represent the great opposing lines of thought—the traditional and the scientific. An examination of birds’ nests, if conducted free of prejudice, will convince any independent person neither that the one nor the other explains these common hedge difficulties. Infallible instinct has not supplied protection for the young birds, nor has the experience of hundreds of years of nest-building taught the chaffinch or the missel-thrush to give its offspring a fair start in the famous ‘struggle for existence.’ Boys who want linnets or goldfinches watch till the young are almost ready to bubble over, and then place them in a cage where the old birds come and feed them. There is, then, no reason why the nest itself should not be designed for the safety of the fledgling as well as of the egg. Birds that nest in holes are frequently very prolific, notably the starling, which rears its brood by thousands in the hollow trees of forests. Though not altogether, in part their vast numbers appear due to the fact that their fledglings escape decimation…

…To understand birds you must try and see things as they see them, not as you see them. They are quite oblivious of your sentiments or ideas, and their actions have no relation to yours. … They look at the matter from the very opposite point of view. The more thoroughly the artificial system of natural history ethics is dismissed from the mind the more interesting wild creatures will be found, because while it is adhered to a veil is held before the eyes, and nothing useful can ever be discovered. “

First Image: 1879 lithograph
Second Image: Richard Jeffries; from the bust by Miss Margaret Thomas, in Salisbury Cathedral.